In his fourth month on the job, Hamilton County Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson hasn't even had time to visit all 75 schools. However, he's been busy listening and learning, and in his first State of the Schools report, he told county PTA members he likes what he sees.
The mood was upbeat and optimistic, as PTA members got their first look at the 35-year-old superintendent who hopes to lead local schools for years to come. Dr. Johnson told the group his success depends on hiring and keeping good educators.
PTA members voiced their concerns about school building maintenance, the need for new schools, and zoning issues. Dr. Johnson wants to re-examine zoning and feeder patterns, so that students will have a clear understanding of where they will advance to middle and high school.
Dr. Johnson listed his priorities, which include focusing on career readiness, the arts, community perception, student performance, and stakeholder engagement. He said the district's problems won't be fixed overnight, but said his staff, along with administrators and teachers, are committed to positive change. He said, "It's not just about new visions, it's about what we already have working and where we might go."
When asked about discipline issues, Dr. Johnson said he was working with his team on ways to encourage good behavior. He said he was "not a fan" of corporal punishment, and it could be phased out. Most county schools have largely abandoned the practice.
Several PTA members say they're behind Dr. Johnson, the county's third superintendent in less than 2 years. They say with support from the community, and elected officials, he has the potential to meet his goal of making Hamilton County the fastest improving school district in Tennessee.