Johnson finalist for nation’s top principal


Fayetteville resident Stephanie Johnson, principal at Maynard H. Jackson High School in Atlanta, is one of three finalists for the National Principal of the Year award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

According to an NASSP statement, Jackson High ranked 377th out of Georgia’s 399 high schools when Johnson was asked by state officials to turn it around as she had done at two previous schools.

“And the stakes were even higher, as a ‘gentrifying’ community was demanding a school program that would make the school a school of choice,” according to the statement. “But despite the challenges, Johnson delivered.”

With extensive outreach to local businesses and the community, the school added 14 AP courses and a fully authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) program by 2014. Johnson’s outreach to Georgia Tech resulted in an early-college engineering program. Standardized test scores skyrocketed among all demographic categories, and students are consistently engaged in school – due largely to an infusion of co-curricular activities.

To align expectations throughout the K-12 continuum, Johnson regularly leads Pedagogy and Practice professional development sessions with leaders in feeder schools. The combined efforts have converted, in Johnson’s words, “a school vision to ‘Mission Possible.'”

“We see in these three leaders an uncompromised commitment to fulfilling the potential of each student in their school,” said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. “Schools cannot succeed without great leaders, and that quality is the essence of great leadership. We are honored to recognize them.”

The three finalists will be recognized in September during the 2016 NASSP Principals Institute, which convenes all state principals of the year from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools, and the Department of Defense Education Activity in Washington, D.C. for a series of professional development activities and meetings with their members of Congress.

The NASSP National Principal of the Year honor is given annually to one principal who exemplifies the characteristics that research has shown to be most effective in school leadership. The search for NASSP’s National Principal of the Year began in early 2016 as each state principals association selected its State Principal of the Year. From this pool of state winners, a panel of judges selected three finalists. The finalists will be interviewed by a separate panel of judges Sept. 11 and the 2017 national winner will be announced during National Principals Month in October.