Renew Dr. Johnson's Contract Now - And Response (2)

Saturday, February 8, 2020

After reading Meghan Mangrum’s article in the Times Free Press regarding the school board considering a new contract for Superintendent Bryan Johnson and attending the State of our System address at The Howard School on Thursday, Feb. 6, I felt compelled to write to you. Will you create a new contract for Superintendent Bryan Johnson?

In my 18 years of teaching I have come to understand the importance of stability in leadership. Hamilton County Schools have shown significant improvements since Dr. Johnson arrived in 2017. I’ve always believed that one person can make a difference, and Superintendent Bryan Johnson has illustrated this once again for me. I feel it is crucial that we secure Dr. Johnson as superintendent now so we continue the positive momentum in our school system. Our students need the consistency of Dr. Johnson’s visionary leadership; it is the key to the transformation we have seen in our schools. 

Under Dr. Johnson’s leadership we became the fastest improving school district in the state of Tennessee. I have heard Superintendent Bryan Johnson say that he is a teacher at heart. As teachers strive to do with their students, Dr. Johnson saw the potential in our school system and drew out the best in us. He is working tirelessly to help us achieve our full potential. I believe this is because Dr. Johnson is focused on kids.

He did not come to Chattanooga to be inactive, and he is willing to have courageous conversations, even if it makes people uncomfortable. With urgency Dr. Johnson reorganized how we use data so it is meaningful to teachers and moves instruction forward. He amplified what is going well, reduced variability in the quality of instruction, and improved communication to all stakeholders.

As a direct result of Superintendent Bryan Johnson’s focus on teaching and learning we all have Clear Learning Targets, and we’ve grown in our understanding of how to teach to the depth and demand of the standards. The questions we ask students are fully aligned to the standards. In literacy instruction our practices reflect the science of reading. Throughout the last three years Dr. Johnson has strategically built capacity by equipping and empowering educators. He knows how to think strategically and which levers will improve outcomes for all students. Remarkably, he makes time to attend small group sit-downs with the superintendent where he has conversations with teachers.

 As a parent of one Hamilton County graduate and a senior, I am grateful for Dr. Johnson’s support of creating Future Ready Institutes. My oldest daughter participated in one of Hamilton County’s Future Ready Institutes and earned her CNA license which she uses as she works as a tech at a local emergency room. This daughter was on Superintendent Bryan Johnson’s student advisory council and she still remembers how he asked them what was going on that was good and what could be improved. This type of commitment to listening and valuing student perspective is integral to Dr. Johnson’s success.

My younger daughter wants to be an elementary school teacher and she will graduate in May with 18 hours of college credit. Dr. Johnson has promoted Early Post Secondary Opportunities and although my daughters feel called to different professions, both of them began preparing for their future while still in high school. I am impressed with how Dr. Johnson has prioritized for results by first addressing the people part-students and educators- and now he is moving onto the facilities aspect. 

As a teacher I have grown and improved my instruction as a direct result of Superintendent Bryan Johnson’s initiatives. More importantly, my students are better prepared for their futures. Three years ago I did not dream that each of my students would have a chromebook or that I would have timely access to the quarterly benchmark data and be able to truly use it to adjust and tailor my teaching.

Our students have demonstrated unprecedented growth in Hamilton County since Dr. Johnson took the helm in 2017; and make no mistake, I firmly believe that this improved student learning is a direct result of his compelling leadership . Will you please offer Superintendent Bryan Johnson a new contract?  

Carrie Bishop
8th Grade Reading Language Arts Teacher
Hixson Middle School
Proud Parent of a Senior at Hixson High School

* * * 

I’d like to echo the thoughts Carrie Bishop shared about securing a new contact for Dr. Bryan Johnson. I’ve worked for several superintendents and by far Dr. Johnson is the most visible, visionary, and approachable leader we have had in recent years. I understand there is hesitation with some because we know how this ended the last couple times a contract was extended. However, Dr. Johnson is not one of those previous leaders. He has truly blazed his own path and approach and it is working. We are not the same system that we were three years ago.

Parents across the county entrust their children to our care five days a week almost 10 months of the year. It is time to value our thoughts on what we have witnessed since 2017. I have not talked to a single staff member in the system who does not have complete confidence in Dr. Johnson’s leadership. He’s intelligent and driven, and another system will snatch him up in a heartbeat if we as a community do not unite and show that we want to continue to build on the foundation he has started.

I’ve always been proud to be a Hamilton County parent and educator. However, Dr. Johnson incites an excitement and zeal that I don’t think we have ever seen in a superintendent. We are on our way to being the best school system in Tennessee. Let’s make sure we keep building on the momentum that Dr. Johnson has started and do what it takes to keep him as our leader. I hope to see a vote on February 20th that affirms his leadership and what has been accomplished so far. 

Jennifer Rimback
Middle Valley Elementary parent
Hixson Middle School parent
Hixson High School Counselor

* * *

Dr. Johnson has stated that he desires to see the graduation rates increase. That is an admirable goal.  However, I worry about some of the changes that have been made. Board policy 4.609 was  revised on 12/13/18 from the 6/19/14 version. In the revision it no longer states that a student must pass classes to be promoted.

This change is a board policy and not directly from Dr. Johnson’s office but it causes me to pause. I also am concerned by the seeming increase in central office staff and resulting budget increases from these and non-teaching positions added to local schools. I do not stand opposed to a contract renewal but I also have a degree of hesitation.

Jerry Harwood

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