A new principal has been taking the wheel at Northside Early Learning Center this school year.
Former teacher John Johnson was vice principal at Churchill County Middle School before taking his current position. From Nebraska originally, Johnson said his own fifth-grade teacher first inspired him to pursue a career in education.
“He just had this way about him,” Johnson said. “He didn’t let anybody hide or sit there. I mean everyone in our class was part of the class. He brought everybody out and made them feel like it was a big family. That kind of stuck with me.”
Johnson has taught grades from second to eighth and everywhere in Clark County, from technology in Mount Charleston to science in Sandy Valley. When his mother was sick, he moved to help take care of her and commuted well over 100 miles, simultaneously working on his Master of Administration.
“I think it was because I wanted to be able to make a bigger impact,” he said of his choice to make the leap into administration. “Even when I was (a teacher) in schools, I was always involved in the leadership aspects ... I did not go into teaching to become an administrator; I was quite happy in the classroom teaching.”
In spring, Johnson saw a principal position was going to be available in the district but wasn’t sure where. He was scheduled and prepared to interview when Dr. Sandra Sheldon, superintendent of schools, informed him he would definitely be a principal but wasn’t sure where since things were in flux.
Later that day, Johnson said he approached Sheldon to say he would go wherever, but Northside was his first choice.
“Because here,” he said, “I love working with these little kids. I’m just having a ball.”
Johnson added the parents have been very patient while dropping off their children, since bus ridership is down. He also said he has a great team of teachers.
“The teachers are planning many ways to torture me,” he said smiling. “We have all sorts of events planned. Like with the box top competition, the class that does the most gets to have a snowball fight with me.”
Johnson and his staff are having monthly family nights to increase communication, and he added playground remodeling is being done in October for more age-appropriate equipment since the school was previously kindergarten through fifth grade instead of pre-school. Johnson also said the school has a waiting list of about 60 children he would love to accept if not for the teacher shortage.
The administrator is also principal of distance and adult education.