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State School Superintendent Richard Woods selects Stephanie Johnson to lead school improvement efforts

MEDIA CONTACTMeghan Frick, GaDOE Communications Office, mfrick@doe.k12.ga.us, 404-463-4246

-Follow GaDOE on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @GeorgiaDeptofEd.

June 26, 2017 – The Georgia Department of Education and State School Superintendent Richard Woods have selected Stephanie Johnson, a successful turnaround principal with 22 years of education experience, to oversee the Department’s school improvement efforts.

After leading the turnarounds of Sequoyah Middle School and Jonesboro High School in Clayton County, Johnson served as the turnaround principal of Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, and was a finalist for National Principal of the Year in 2017. She will serve as the GaDOE’s Deputy Superintendent for School Improvement.

“Stephanie Johnson is a dynamic leader with a proven track record of beating the odds and eliminating barriers for students,” Superintendent Woods said. “I’m confident she will make a great addition to our team at the Georgia Department of Education as we work to provide all schools with the meaningful support they need to improve student outcomes and expand opportunities.”

Johnson brings thoughtful, data-driven decision-making and a clear sense of urgency to the crucial work of supporting underperforming schools. She has a proven record of success with at-risk populations and cleared three schools from No Child Left Behind’s “Needs Improvement” status, while expanding gifted education and accelerating academic opportunities for all students. During her time at Maynard Jackson, the school’s College & Career-Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) score increased from 53.8 in 2012 to 76 in 2016.

In her work as a principal, Johnson has focused on engaging the community and bringing new partners to the table to support student success. She views a collaborative school environment as the key to creating successful students and supporting teachers, and believes partnerships with parents and community members are essential to enriching the educational experience.

At the GaDOE, Johnson will focus on building capacity and providing supports for improvement to all schools, including those eligible for targeted and comprehensive assistance under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). She will also collaborate with the Chief Turnaround Officer appointed by the State Board of Education in response to House Bill 338, the First Priority Act. Moving forward, Johnson and her team will focus on implementing a tiered, proactive system of supports, ensuring that all schools have the supports they need and are improving student achievement.

“To me, mediocrity is never an option,” Johnson said. “I believe educators should motivate students to be lifelong learners by providing educational experiences that are relevant to real life. In addition, I feel that all schools and districts have the ability to be highly effective. In a highly effective school or district, all stakeholders are actively engaged in all facets of school life. Data drives the critical decisions that are made about financial allocations and instructional models. Customer service and community engagement are cornerstones of school culture. Effective leadership requires inspired vision, clear communication, and thoughtful decision-making.”

About Stephanie Johnson

Prior to her work as a principal, Johnson served as an assistant principal, a school counselor, and a classroom teacher. In addition to being recognized as a 2017 National Principal of the Year finalist, she is the 2016 Georgia Principal of the Year, the 2016 Atlanta Public Schools Principal of the Year, and the 2017 Shining Star Leader of the Year, and in 2016 Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp recognized her as an Outstanding Georgia Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador for the state.

Johnson serves on the boards of the Georgia State Principals Center and the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and English from the University of Alabama, master’s degrees in secondary education and English, guidance and counseling, and educational leadership from the University of South Alabama, and a specialist’s degree in educational leadership from the University of South Alabama. She will complete her doctoral studies in December 2017.

Johnson and her husband, Gary, are the parents of three children: Taylor, Jacob, and Stephen.

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