Montclair Schools released this statement Tuesday:
After an extensive search, The Montclair Board of Education announced, at a special meeting on April 11, that Dr. Kendra V. Johnson has been appointed Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Johnson, who currently serves as the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Equity, Curriculum and Instruction, will begin her tenure as Superintendent on May 1. Dr. Johnson holds both her Doctor of Education and Juris Doctor degrees and is a former teacher, principal, and Title 1 officer, as well as having been the Chief Academic Officer in districts in Washington State and New Jersey. She is the district’s first permanent superintendent in three years, and the district’s first African-American superintendent in its 144-year history.
In the nearly two years that Dr. Johnson has been with the district, she has led the Equity, Curriculum and Instruction Department with responsibility for Title I, II, III and IV budgeting and planning as well as budgeting and planning for the entire department. She oversees the District’s Evaluation Advisory Committee, has been developing and supervising textbook review and purchases to replace outdated materials, and provides information on curriculum and teaching to the PTA as requested.
In addition Dr. Johnson, in collaboration with the district’s educators, has worked on the district’s revision of curriculum to meet new student learning standards, as well as on curriculum writing and professional development. She has formed a SAIL committee and is developing a plan for making the program more robust and transparent. Dr. Johnson regularly attends community meetings, school performances and events, and speaks to student groups at their invitation to discuss topics of concern to them.
At the Board meeting, Board President Laura Hertzog shared comments from Dr. Johnson’s former colleagues, who noted that “Dr. Johnson is highly professional and very collaborative. She finds creative solutions, brings all to the table and seeks input from all stakeholders. She is a systems thinker and a strong educational leader who is passionate about education and giving kids the best.”
Additionally at the meeting, Hertzog offered her own insight on the Board’s decision. “For me, personally, evidence of that passion was demonstrated, among other ways, by the fact that of all of the candidates that we interviewed, Dr. Johnson was the only one who came to us in her very first interview with a written plan, specific to Montclair, articulating the areas she would like to begin to address if she were selected,” she said. “That plan came with a Goal #1, which was ‘Ensure a world class education for every child.’”
On her appointment, Dr. Johnson expressed her gratitude and direction going forward, “I am truly excited to build upon the excellent work already underway in the district,” Johnson said. “In order to yield undeniable results from each student in the Montclair Public Schools, I will continue to work thoughtfully with the talented staff within the district as well as tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise within the Montclair community at large.”
Dr. Johnson will be replacing Interim Superintendent Barbara Pinsak who began March 2017. Hertzog, in reflecting on Ms. Pinsak’s time in the district, said, “Barbara Pinsak has spent the last 13 months devoting her wit, wisdom and grace to advancing the best interests of Montclair’s children. Montclair is extraordinarily fortunate to have had her as our educational leader and will continue to reap the benefits of her dedication for years to come.”