Judith Johnson was appointed to the Board of Regents for a five year term effective April 1, 2015. She has devoted her professional life to public education. Whether working to transform national and local educational policy to significantly improve the quality of education, leading school districts to give all children the same opportunity to succeed, or building partnerships with the business community, civic organizations, government leaders and the Arts community, she has built an extensive network of partners to help schools raise student achievement. She is known for her unrelenting commitment to public education.
Regent Johnson’s teaching and leadership roles span seven very diverse city and suburban districts. During President Clinton’s second term in office she was appointed by Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, to serve initially as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and later as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education. During her tenure the department launched legislation that provided funds for initiatives that included Extended Day and School Choice Programs, Instructional Technology programs and Small Class Size initiatives. A major effort focused on implementation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, at that time, labeled the “Improving America’s School Act.” This was the first national effort to introduce a performance based standards framework for teaching and learning.
Regent Johnson returned to K-12 education and served for ten years as School Superintendent for the city of Peekskill, becoming the first woman and African American to hold that position. During her tenure she supported site based leadership teams that launched the transformation of low performing schools into "high performing/gap closing" schools. That work continues today. In a district that had not built a new school in over 45 years she achieved voter approval for a $70 million dollar referendum that led to the construction of a new, state-of-the art middle school with laboratories for technology, science, facilities for the Visual and Performing Arts programs and a competition size swimming pool to support a new graduation requirement that all students demonstrate the ability to swim. The high school renovation included construction of new science labs that changed the nature of science instruction from recall and memorization to a performance based model that focused on inquiry and innovation. Enrollment in college level courses tripled as the doors opened to all students who chose to select these courses. In 2012 she took the temporary helm of the Mount Vernon City School district while the search for a permanent superintendent continued. She supported their school improvement efforts that focused on high performance standards for the recruitment and selection of new teachers and the overhaul of the instructional technology programs.
Johnson has built a reputation as a trusted, respected, and sought-after educational leader and mentor who is also able to bring diverse parties to agreement on shared goals that benefit all students. In each position she has left behind enduring changes that continue to inspire those who followed her. She has served on many executive committees including the American Association of School Administrators, the New York State Council for School Superintendents, the Association of Small City School Districts and the New Standards Project, a national initiative that launched the transformation to standards based instruction, a concept that remains the framework for teaching and learning across the nation.
Public recognition of her work began in 1990 when she was selected as one of the 100 Executive Educators in America. Since that time she has been recognized for her contributions to our nation by over 20 organizations. In 2008 she received the New York State School Superintendent of the Year award, making her the first African American in the history of the New York State Council of School Superintendents to receive this honor. In 2009 she returned to the Brooklyn College campus that launched her life’s work to be honored as Alumna of the Year. In 2015 she was inducted into the Rockland County Civil Rights Hall of Fame,
A much sought after speaker, Johnson has published op-ed and professional articles and offered testimony before state and federal legislative committees. She has earned advanced degrees during the course of her career.
Judith asserts that as we continuously redefine our economic goals in response to a changing post-industrial world, so must we continuously evaluate the impact of educational policies on student learning. No one strategy can meet the needs of our very diverse student population
Her two children have chosen careers that serve our nation, Pamela is an Instructional Technology Specialist and Paul is an attorney.