School 13

Roland Barth

May 18, 1937 ~ September 12, 2021 (age 84)


Roland Sawyer Barth, Educator, Sailor, Farmer, 84  -  (1937-2021)

ROLAND S. BARTH, a product of public elementary school in Miami, Florida, and a one-room schoolhouse in Alna, Maine, became a teacher, principal, professor, consultant, and author who dedicated his career working tirelessly to improve public education and foster communities of life-long learning. He passed away peacefully on September 12th in Maine, surrounded by his family.  

Mr. Barth was born in 1937 in Newton, MA, the second of five children to Rev. Joseph Nicholas Barth and Ramona Sawyer Barth.  He spent his life in Florida, Maine, and Massachusetts where his passion for saltwater sailing, farming, and learning, deeply touched all who knew him.  

After receiving his BA in psychology from Princeton and MEd and EdD in education from Harvard, he served as a public-school teacher and principal for fifteen years in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California. Barth received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976 and served on the faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for thirteen years, as Director of the Study on the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Schools, founding Director of the Principals’ Center and the International Network of Principals’ Centers, and Senior Lecturer on education. He was also an Academic Visitor at Oxford University and a member of the National Commission on Excellence in Educational Administration. 

He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lewis and Clark College and the Alumni Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He served as a trustee of Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound, a member of the boards of Micro-Society Inc. and The Bermuda Sloop Foundation, Chairman of the Board of the Principal Residency Network, and a member of the Board of Editorial Advisors of the Phi Delta Kappa.

Mr. Barth was the author of many articles and seven books: Tales of the Intracoastal Waterway (2010), Lessons Learned (2003), Learning by Heart (2001), Cruising Rules (1998), Improving Schools from Within (1990), Run School Run (1980), and Open Education and the American School (1972). He focused on school leadership, school improvement from within, and the personal and professional development of educators. Central to his thinking was the concept of the school as a community of learners and leaders.

Roland leaves behind his wife, Barbara Bauman, two daughters, Joanna Barth and Carolyn Barth Renzin and her husband Lee, two grandchildren, Gus and Macey, and scores of dear friends and family. In his wake, educators and students worldwide will forever draw on his wisdom to form communities that improve learning.

Donations in Roland’s honor may be made to the Midcoast Conservancy, an organization dedicated to preserving his cherished Maine lands - PO Box 439 Edgecomb, ME 04556 (; to Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound, an organization having an increasing impact on improvement of public schools - EL Education, Attn: Emily Pentz, 7 N Pleasant Street., 3rd Floor, Amherst, MA 01002 (; and to the Sussman\ House, whose hospice nurses cared for him and his family with heart-filled compassion and where he finally found peace - Sussman House Volunteer Fund, 40 Anchor Drive, Rockport, ME 04856.

Arrangements are under the directions and care of the Strong-Hancock Funeral Home, 612 Main Street, Damariscotta, ME 04543.  Condolences, and messages for his family, may be expressed bi visiting:


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