Beloved LHHS history teacher Barnes retiring after 27 years
By WAYLON CUNNINGHAM
Steve Barnes has taught U.S. History, World History, P.E., Earth Science, and a little of everything in between. He coached baseball, football, drove a school bus, and if you believe the jokes of his old friend Coach Anthony Escobar, he’s also a sharp squirrel hunter.
But after 27 years in Liberty Hill schools, Barnes will officially retire at the end of this semester.
“You just kinda know when it’s time,” he said.
He says one of the most memorable moments of his career came in 2006, when he was the Defense Coordinator for the high school football team. That year the Liberty Hill Panthers won the state championship for Division II – 3A.
“You’re chasing that your entire career,” he said, “and not many coaches get to experience it.”
Head Coach Jerry Vance says he remembers Barnes in the weight room after the game. He told the kids, “‘don’t let this be the defining moment in your life. There are other things that are bigger and better to go on to.’”
That was just one example, Vance said, of the “great job” Barnes did for the team.
He served as the Defense Coordinator for 17 years, between 1990 and 2007. Only three years earlier, in 2003, did Barnes stop acting as the Head Coach for baseball, a position he had also taken first in 1990.
The high school at that time was classified as 2A, and 267 students attended it.
In the early days, he said, many of the students he coached were the same he taught in class.
After moving on from the elementary school in the earlier part of his time in LHISD, Barnes taught U.S. and World History at the high school. For the last 12 years, he’s exclusively taught U.S. History, which he says has been a lifelong passion.
Its narrow focus, too, he said, made it all the more rewarding. He could delve deeper into teaching the material.
“World history you can’t cover in a year,” he said. “But with American history, you can.”
High School Senior Dyllon Joiner says Barnes was one of his favorite teachers.
“He was very outgoing and an energetic teacher,” Joiner said. “He had a kind heart and a very, very good sense of humor.”
He especially enjoyed the entertaining stories Barnes was known to tell his classes.
Social Studies teacher Hiram Drum says Barnes was an invaluable asset to the department, and was the “best U.S. History teacher I’ve been around in my career.
“He helped me out immensely last year, as it was my first time teaching U.S. History,” Drum said. “I will miss him being across the hall from me.”
Barnes, 58, said he knew he wanted to be a teacher since the seventh grade.
“All my heroes were teachers and coaches,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s the greatest profession there is.
“I got to live out my dream.”
In total, Barnes’ teaching career spanned 37 years. His first two schools were in Louisiana. After realizing he could immediately make more money teaching public school in Texas, he moved to Travis County. There he taught at Del Valle High School for seven years, before finally applying to Liberty Hill as a coach.
Barnes said that although he may substitute teach, he has no plans except to perhaps travel with his wife.
“I just want to hang loose for a year,” he said, “And just see what falls in my lap.”