Head of the Class
Head of the class: Peekskill Schools Superintendant Judith Johnson
Judith Johnson, Superintendent of Schools for
Peekskill Schools Superintendent Judith Johnson recently was recognized as the 2008
New York State Superintendent of the Year. Under her direction,
Q: What career would you have pursued if you hadn’t become a school superintendent?
A: I was in a pre-med program at
Q: What makes a schools superintendent good?
A: You can’t hold the job if you can’t accept criticism. But I think we are doing a far better job of educating our children than most people think. We may be the only country on this planet that educates everyone.
Q: If someone gave your district one million dollars, what would you spend it on?
A: I could easily spend a million dollars. I’d spend it on a full-day pre-K program for every child in the city and to extend the school day and school year—the notion of 180 days a year and an eight-to-three day is obsolete. And I’d invest money on the ongoing continuing professional development needs of teachers.
Q: What’s most difficult—dealing with teachers, students, or parents?
A: Dealing with the parents and kids who have lost hope.
Q: What advice can you offer parents who want their children to succeed in school?
A: Number one: ask questions on a regular basis. Talk to your kids and stay involved in your child’s education. Check the backpack, use e-mail to ask questions of the teacher, attend all teacher conferences. Finally, spend a lot of time reading together—even parallel reading.
Q: What is the greatest challenge facing educators today?
A: We need to think planet, not just
Q: What educational innovation is next on the horizon?
A: We haven’t even begun to explore technology in education. We can’t forecast the future or even forecast the problems. The jobs that will be available in 2010 haven’t even been created yet. Schools are going to be dramatically changed. A lot of kids ultimately will be learning online.
Enjoy this article? The conversation with Judith Johnson continues at WestchesterMagazine.com