Dr. Jennifer Atkinson will become the new Principal of Barkley Elementary School. She is a native of Athens, Texas, and a proud U.S. Army Veteran. Dr. Atkinson, a former officer in the 101st Airborne Division, is honored to return to Fort Campbell to serve military families. Before coming to Kentucky, Dr. Atkinson was the Assistant Principal at McCool Elementary Middle School in Santa Rita, Guam. Dr. Atkinson joined DoDEA in 2021, following seven years of service as a middle school teacher, athletic coach, and assistant principal within the Belton Independent School District in Texas. Her educational career began in the Florence Independent School District in 2012 as an 8th grade Social Studies teacher and girls' athletic coach at Florence Middle School.
Dr. Atkinson earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from Tarleton State University and her Master's in Secondary Education from the University of North Texas. She earned her Doctorate in Education Administration from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Dr. Atkinson is passionate about cultivating positive relationships with all school community members, encouraging students as they learn and grow, working with faculty and staff so that they can reach their highest potential, supporting meaningful parent involvement, and fostering an innovative school culture.
Dr. Atkinson is married to Army Major (Retired) Tim Atkinson, and together they have two children, a daughter-in-law and a future son-in-law. Dr. Atkinson enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.
Ms. Nicole Melendez is honored to be serving as your Barkley Elementary Assistant Principal. She is excited to partner with Dr. Atkinson in leading a school with a reputation for being student-centered and innovative. This year marks Ms. Melendez's 10th year with DoDEA. She completed her student teaching in 1997 at Guion Bluford Elementary School in Lancaster, PA. She then graduated with a Bachelor's in Education with an Early Childhood/Urban Education specialization from Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania. Ms. Melendez was hopeful that acquiring this degree would propel her into a flourishing teaching career. However, there were hiring freezes in all surrounding districts that led her into the human services field.
In 2004, Ms. Melendez earned her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling from Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania. She worked as the Program Director of Gaudenzia Inc. First Program where she led her staff in helping individuals and families affected by drug and alcohol dependency, mental illness, and related conditions to achieve a better quality of life and become accountable individuals. Ms. Melendez developed the skills to lead and build a trusting community through shared decision-making by establishing a collaborative culture through conversation and personal connections. As a leader in the agency, she was able to enact change, promote professional development and grow leaders through supervision and mentoring.
In 2006, Ms. Melendez and her family PCS’d to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Upon her arrival, she decided that it was time to pursue her dreams by securing a job in Education. Ms. Melendez began working as an Adult Basic Education Instructor at the Fayetteville Technical Community College in Fayetteville, North Carolina. That same year, she attended a Cumberland County School District job fair and successfully landed a fourth-grade teaching position. Ms. Melendez thrived quickly as a teacher leader and remained in 4th grade and looping to 5th grade in her last year at Bill Hefner. She held positions as Grade level Chairperson, Continuous School Improvement Chairperson, as well as Teacher Mentor.
In 2007, after her first year in the classroom, Ms. Melendez was awarded Teacher of The Year. One year later, she was on the front cover article of the local newspaper -The Fayetteville Observer. The article was about how she was able to excel in her job as an educator while managing a home and supporting her active-duty spouse through numerous wartime deployments. (Cover photo: in the classroom with her 4th-grade students at Bill Hefner Elementary School in Cumberland County, North Carolina)
Ms. Melendez graduated with her Masters in Educational Leadership from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, in 2013. During her principal internship in 2011, she accepted a job as a Kindergarten Teacher at Shughart Elementary in Fort Bragg, NC. During her past ten years with DoDEA, Ms. Melendez has gained a wealth of experience as a teacher (Pre-K, Kindergarten, 5th grade, 4th/5th-grade split co-teaching model. READ 180, LLI, In-School Instructional Support Teacher (Literacy and Math), Teacher Mentor, Student Club Leader, and CSI Chair for seven consecutive years. As CSI Chair, Ms. Melendez provided professional development on a range of topics mandated by the district related to the current trends in curriculum and instruction. She initiated an innovative school-wide intervention plan which led Shughart Elementary School to earn the second-highest overall accreditation scores in the DoDEA Americas Mid-Atlantic District in SY 2019/2020. Ms. Melendez also facilitated a session at the Summer Leadership Conference for the MAD District Administrators called " Powerful Practices of Progress Monitoring."
Ms. Nicole Melendez is a passionate educator who is deeply committed to providing a safe and enjoyable educational experience for all students. At the core of this commitment is: Fostering positive relationships with school stakeholders to build a healthy school environment. Fully engaging teachers and students in the art of teaching and learning on a daily basis by modeling high expectations. Promoting the importance of foundational skills by ensuring that all students read, write and problem solve daily. Integrating technology into each classroom daily to ensure we are preparing our students for 21st Century College and Career standards. Building a strong bridge between home and school because parent involvement promotes student success. Remaining student-centered and always data-driven!
Ms. Melendez would like to thank the Barkley Community in advance for what she is sure will be a great partnership in the years to come!