PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Classical High School Principal Scott Barr went to the school’s auditorium for a jazz band concert Friday morning, but he ended up hearing more than just good music.

In a surprise announcement, Barr was named the 2022 Rhode Island Principal of the Year.

R.I. Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, Providence Superintendent Javier Montañez, and Rhode Island Association of School Principals (RIASP) Executive Director Robert Littlefield were on hand for the announcement, along with students, staff, and alumni.

Barr, a Lincoln native, began his career 32 years ago working as a history teacher for Providence Public Schools, and was eventually promoted to department chair at Classical.

After a move to administrative leadership as an assistant principal at Cranston High School East, Barr returned to Providence become Classical’s 16th principal. Under his leadership, Classical has received numerous awards and is consistently ranked among one of the best public schools in the state and country, according to the district.

Earlier this week, U.S. News & World Report listed Classical as Rhode Island’s top school and ranked it 91st in its list of top 100 schools nationally. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Education announced Classical as a National Blue Ribbon School.

“We’re thrilled that one of Providence’s very own school leaders has received this recognition from principals from across the state,” Infante-Green said.

“Providence students and families are fortunate to be able to turn to leaders like Principal Barr for support and guidance,” she added.

Mayor Jorge Elorza, a Classical alumnus who had Barr as an 11th grade history teacher, said Barr continues to “raise the high bar.”

“There is no doubt that the leadership of Principal Barr is making a positive impact on students and preparing them for future success,” Elorza said.

“I know the difference Principal Barr has made for hundreds of kids,” he added.