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Amanda Johnson - Westview Middle School

Johnson Q. When did you first envision yourself as a principal and why?
A. It was about three years into my teaching career that I knew I wanted the opportunity to make a greater impact. I was teaching and coaching at the time, and the coaching experience allowed me to see how the larger system really has an impact on the whole child. Because of this, I knew I wanted an opportunity to make an impact on the entire system for the benefit of kids. I was able to reach more kids because I was teaching and coaching, and I thought, “If I’m a principal, think about how many kids I can affect.”

Q. What made you want to be an educator?
A. I was working sports camps during the summer while I was in college. I loved watching younger kids get excited when they were successful and did something well, especially when progress was made in an area where a kid was really struggling. To watch the excitement and celebration when it happened, when the light bulb went off, was amazing! There’s nothing like it. I thought, “I could actually get paid to do this.”

Q. What was your first teaching experience?
A. I was a high school teacher and a girls’ head basketball coach. I loved both! I didn’t take my first administrative job and until three years after I completed my master’s degree. I couldn’t leave the kids I was coaching. It was definitely hard to do. But now I get to be with an entire campus of kids daily and make decisions that impact them all. It’s the best job ever!

Q. When you were in high school, what did you see yourself doing at this point in your life?
A. Professionally, I knew that I would be doing something that would have an impact. I don’t know that I could say that I knew in high school that I would be a principal, but what I did know is that I would be doing something that would be beneficial to the greater good. I couldn’t do something that provided a lot of money but didn’t allow me to positively affect others. I’d prefer to have a sense of purpose.

Q. What is something principals do that people may not be aware they do?
A. That’s a good question! I was just hauling trash, cleaning counters and sweeping the back hallway a few days ago to get ready for the first day. The principal is literally responsible for everything that goes on in a building. Sometimes that means you roll up your sleeves and get dirty, literally! I would never ask someone to do something that I wouldn’t, and that includes the above aforementioned.

Q. What are you most excited about for the coming year?
A. Leading a middle school and getting to know an entirely new campus and this includes the students, families and teachers of Westview. It’s exciting to work with middle school students and watch them grow academically, socially and emotionally. This is such a transformative time for young people and I’m excited to be a part of that. I’ve worked with high school students for my entire career and loved it, and now I get an opportunity to use that experience to prepare middle school students for high school and support the major milestones that take place at this time in their lives.

Q. What are your long-term goals?
A. I just met one of them: becoming a principal! Can I just sit and enjoy this one for a while?! I do think that I would eventually like to lead a high school campus. With my previous experience, and now with the opportunity to understand the entire secondary system to include middle school, I think together the understanding would be invaluable in that role.

Q. What do you want to instill in your middle school students?
A. want students to leave Westview Middle with a set of skills necessary to be college and career ready. It’s important to me that we provide students with opportunities to, not only grow academically but to grow socially and emotionally, so that they have the confidence to challenge themselves, take risks and make choices about their future. I call these “soft skills” we all need to be successful, no matter what we do. I want them each to feel like they have an opportunity to be someone.

Q. What is the one thing you must have in your office?
A. Coffee and pictures of my son. Coffee keeps me going but my son keeps things in perspective. No matter what, at the end of the day, I make every decision as if it were impacting him. That’s the best lens to wear when making decisions that impact children.