Iredell-Statesville superintendent named state’s best administrator

jmarusak@charlotteobserver.comNovember 19, 2013 

Iredell-Statesville Schools Superintendent Brady Johnson, a longtime defender of teachers who has criticized the General Assembly for cutbacks to education, was named 2014 N.C. superintendent of the year on Tuesday night for his district’s overall student achievement.

Johnson was honored at a ceremony in Greensboro by the North Carolina Association of School Administrators and the North Carolina School Boards Association, which cited the district’s all-time high graduation rate and other achievements.

The associations also cited Iredell-Statesville for being among only seven U.S. school districts to be awarded a $5 million first-round federal Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant to focus more attention on students struggling academically. Under Johnson’s leadership, Iredell-Statesville also snared one of 16 federal Race to the Top grants worth about $20 million to further boost academic achievement.

Johnson’s “commitment to achieving positive results for the children of Iredell County is a shining example of visionary leadership in North Carolina’s public schools,” Katherine Joyce, executive director of the North Carolina Association of School Administrators, said in a news release.

“Brady Johnson is an innovative leader who works tirelessly towards academic excellence for all students,” said Ed Dunlap Jr., executive director of the North Carolina School Boards Association, said in the release.

Johnson will now compete for national superintendent of the year. The winner will be announced at the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference, held Feb. 13-15 in Nashville, Tenn.

Johnson is an Iredell County native who has been the district’s superintendent since 2009. The district has at least 20,000 students.

He is the second superintendent in the county to win the state honor in recent years. Mooresville Superintendent Mark Edwards also won the award and is the current national superintendent of the year.

Johnson is known in the county for his outspokenness in defending teachers amid state cutbacks.

When teachers across the state planned to stage walkouts this fall to protest low pay and other policies they said hurt public education, Johnson instead urged school “walk-ins,” inviting parents, business leaders, elected officials and other residents to visit schools.

“Why should our teachers have to stand alone and fight for better working conditions and additional resources for their students?” Johnson asked in a posting on the school system’s website. “We should all stand united behind our schools and our teachers.”

Johnson also blasted North Carolina’s ranking as 46th lowest in the nation in average teacher pay.

“Is North Carolina really in a race to the top?” Johnson asks in the posting. “Or are we scrambling to get to the bottom?”

Marusak: 704-987-3670; Twitter: @jmarusak

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