Fifth son of hard-working parents who struggled to make ends meet, John worked for everything he ever received. He knew that public education was his only path to success and lifeline out of poverty. He graduated from Campbell High School in Cobb County, Georgia.

John’s career began in the public classrooms of Georgia. He immediately began working on advanced degrees in educational leadership to become a principal to have the influence to improve an entire school.

John knows that education is freedom. Through education we all have the opportunity to improve our lives.

John graduated in 1988 from Berry College in Rome, GA, with a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations. He also holds a master’s degree from the University of West Georgia and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Georgia.

Dr. Barge has served as a high school English teacher, middle school Spanish teacher, assistant principal, principal, county superintendent, and state superintendent. He also served as the State Director of Career, Technical and Agriculture Education for the Georgia Department of Education. John has been recognized as a STAR teacher in 1996, as Georgia’s Assistant Principal of the Year in 2001, and received the Berry College Alumni Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2005. He is also noted with creating the Georgia’s Career Pathway System.

Prior to becoming State School Superintendent, John served as the Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction with the Bartow County School System.