TROY — Bon Jovi had a song about one returning to their hometown and the streets they once knew, and you could say Stephanie Johnson did just that.
Johnson’s family moved to Meadow Lane when she was attending junior high school. She grew up that street and said she actually drives near the home she grew up in.
Now, Johnson is the new principal at Cookson Elementary. Previously she was the assistant principal and principal at Troy Junior High for eight years before going to Upper Valley Career Center as a supervisor for six years.
When a friend in the district told her about the open position, Johnson said she decided to throw her hat in the ring. She said there wasn’t anything specific about the job that made her decide to apply for it.
“The bottom line is that I love Troy,” she said. “At that point in time I had to reflect ‘What’s in your heart?’”
She loved her jobs at UVCC and the junior high, so Johnson never left a job to try to leave something.
“But when opportunities present themselves and above all things — I love Troy City Schools and I love working with our students, so when that job became available, I’m an elementary teacher at heart,” she said. “The timing seemed right.”
Prior to Troy City Schools, Johnson has also held administrative roles at Miami County Educational Services Center and Milton-Union Elementary School. She described her leadership role as evolving, and said she was typically a democratic leader.
“I spend a lot of time listening and I think one of my strengths is I’m a good listener and an avid problem solver,” she said. “I don’t like problems to sit and stew.”
She said that when problems do arise, she spends a lot of time asking questions to gather all the necessary information first and then takes care of the situation accordingly.
Johnson was hired last May, which gave her the fortunate opportunity to be in the building three different days to get a feel for how the building operates, as well as an opportunity to begin meeting some teachers.
“We have some staff I had as junior high students,” she said, with a laugh. “It was like ‘Wow, am I that old, how did that happen?’”
May also provided her an opportunity to see many of the students and their families. The school atmosphere is very friendly, upbeat and student-centered, she said.
“We’re looking for ways to be helpful, for ways to serve students better and to help them learn the best they can,” she said. “It was fun getting to see the kids arrive in the morning. They’re running up to the door, can’t wait to get in in here, which is always a good sign.”
Johnson said Cookson was always busy with parents during arrival and pick-up times, and the area surrounding the school was crowded with cars during the annual carnival.
“It was evident there was a lot of parents and family involvement, which is exciting,” she said. “When you have excited teachers and involved parents you’re always going to have good results.”
On a personal note, she graduated from Troy High School and is married to her her high school sweetheart, Aaron. Their oldest son, Aaron Jr. just graduated from Ohio Dominican University and is going to be a fourth grade teacher in Whitehall City Schools in Columbus.
Their younger son Greg is a sophomore at Walsh University in Canton, studying to be a middle school science and math teacher while also playing baseball for the school.
Daughter Gabrielle is entering Troy High School as a freshman.
Johnson described herself and her husband as being very family oriented, having followed Greg’s baseball team around over the summer and Aaron Jr. when he was running track in college.
“We spend a lot of time at sporting events,” she said. “My daughter is a very strong athlete and is playing volleyball right now.”
For the school year ahead, Johnson said she is looking forward to the opportunity to do what she loves as an administrator but also as a teacher.
“I love to watch adults learn, I love to watch little kids learn, that’s been the beauty for me, that I’ve been able to see people learn at all levels, ” she said. “Bottom line is I care, and I’m going to do anything and everything to ensure my students are successful.”
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.