Barrington High School music and band teacher plays farewell tune

Barbara Hughes began working in Barrington Schools in 1985

By Josh Bickford
Posted 6/11/24

Barbara Hughes always knew she was going to be a teacher. The only question was, ‘Which subject?’

“I was thinking about math. I was thinking about music. Those were the top …

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Barrington High School music and band teacher plays farewell tune

Barbara Hughes began working in Barrington Schools in 1985


Barbara Hughes always knew she was going to be a teacher. The only question was, ‘Which subject?’

“I was thinking about math. I was thinking about music. Those were the top two,” Hughes said during a recent interview.

Eventually she chose music, and for the last 39 years she has been a mainstay in the music department for Barrington Public Schools. 

Her decades of work in Barrington will soon come to an end — Hughes will retire at the end of the school year.

The longtime teacher said she has loved the work. 

“Sometimes you have really good years — the kids sound really great and it’s a great group of kids that really meld, make music really well together, and that’s exciting,” she said. “Then there are other years where it’s a growing year. That’s really exciting because you see the potential and you see the growth. 

It doesn’t really matter what the level is, there’s always something… I just love working with the kids. No matter where they are.”

Hughes, who started teaching in Barrington in 1985, said she always knew that this district was the best spot for her to teach.

“Yeah, I did. I kinda did. It’s just a place where you can grow,” Hughes said. “It just feels really comfortable. I’ve worked at all the schools except for Sowams. My first gig was at Nayatt and here, then it was the middle school and here. And then it was just here. And I subbed for Mrs. Primiano. And I subbed for Mrs. Boehmke. 

“It just gets really comfortable at all those levels. I love K through 12. And then here, this is a special place.”

When asked what she would miss the most upon retirement, Hughes was quick to answer: “The kids and my colleagues.”

“I have a couple of things lined up that are much more part-time. But it will keep my hand in it. It will be fun. It’s still with students, young people. I look forward to that, but I’m going to miss this place like crazy,” she said. 

Hughes heaped praise on Barrington Public Schools and the community for understanding the importance of a strong music department. 

“I think what Barrington offers is just a lot of opportunity: The program; the administrative support; the faculty support; the community support,” she said. “The things you’re able to do when you have support are really special. The fact that our kids get to play every day and make connections, be with each other, take that off to college and another level, is really special. And we know that not every school has this opportunity.”

All in the family

Teaching in Barrington offered Hughes the chance to periodically share classroom space with her children — Brian, 33, Laura, 31, and Sarah, 22 — while they were students. 

“I had each one of them in my class,” she said. “My son still plays the drums in a cover band. That’s not his job, but he still enjoys music. And he was the drummer in the Jazz band for years. My daughter, Laura, took one of my history classes. I’ve had her in class. My daughter, Sarah, is a vocalist and I had her… she was here every day for four years. She’s majoring in music.”

Hughes has also stayed in contact with many of her former students. She mentioned Adam Marcello, who graduated from Barrington in the late 1990s.

“Our former student and Barrington grad, Adam Marcello, was Katy Perry’s drummer,” Hughes said.  He graduated in the 90s… and now he works at Berklee, where he graduated. He was a very special drummer in high school.”


Hughes has loved teaching music for many years, but as a child she was slow to love learning an instrument. 

Her parents signed her up for piano lessons when she was five or six years old. 

“I asked to quit every year,” Hughes said. “I probably asked to quit until I was about 13 or 14. And then you start being able to be pretty decent.”

Hughes still loves playing the piano and she enjoys listening to a variety of different types of music. 

“I’ve always loved Jazz. I love classical music. I love rock and roll, that I’ve listened to my whole life,” she said. “I love wind ensemble literature. I like it all.”

She also likes The Rolling Stones. In fact, a few years after she started working in Barrington Schools, Hughes went to see the Stones live in concert. She said the show was great.

And just last month, she did it again, attending a The Rolling Stones concert in Foxboro, Mass.

“It was good. It was really fun,” she said.

“I saw The Rolling Stones in the first part of my career. I remember I was teaching in the middle school, so it must have been the late 80s was the last time I saw them. I saw them at the beginning and I saw them at the end. 

“And I love going to see concerts of my former students, seeing what they’re up to. I’ve made a lot of really good friends who are amazing musicians.”

Hughes said that in addition to the part-time music teaching she plans to do after she retires from Barrington High School, she also wants to spend plenty of time gardening, visiting her new grand-baby (who is due in December), playing with her new Golden Retriever puppy Junie, and relaxing at the beach. 

“The beach, that’s the go-to,” Hughes said. 

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