Nancy Johnson: departing after decade as principal

By Maddie Binning

Maddie Binning is a senior at Minnehaha Academy and Editor in Chief of the Talon Newspaper. Maddie has worked on the Talon for four years and hopes to study journalism in university. When she isn't working on the paper, Maddie is both a freelance photographer and a photographer at Lifetouch Portrait Studios. She also has a passion for reading, music and traveling.

Posted: May 21, 2015

“I’m just going to try to do the very best I can do until the last day,” said principal Nancy Johnson.

After 19 years at Minnehaha, Johnson has announced her departure. Johnson began her teaching career in 1971, moving to Minnehaha in 1996. When Johnson first arrived from Osseo Senior High School, she began as a service coordinator for all students and a teacher for economics and psychology.

“Minnehaha is not only a private school, but it’s a unique private school,” said Johnson. “It was a nice experience but very different coming from a public school setting to Minnehaha.”

After spending six years as a teacher at Minnehaha, Johnson moved into administration acting as academic dean, a position comparable to vice principal. Johnson oversaw academics and scheduling while continuing to teach advanced placement macro- and micro-economics. Then after three years as academic dean, Johnson moved into the position of principal. At first, she acted as the interim principal as the school searched for a new person to fill the position, but instead of making a new hire, they asked Johnson to stay on as principal.

Now after 10 years, Johnson continues her work as principal, overseeing the work of teachers.

“My main duty here is to supervise teachers,” said Johnson. “My day to day work here is a lot of meetings and a lot of planning. It is doing background things to help facilitate what the teachers are doing.”

The teachers she oversees appreciate not only her perspective as principal, but also the experience she has in the classroom.

“Having been a teacher herself, she understands the teaching life,” said English teacher Carolyn Forsell. “She also understands that teachers need a strong advocate. Nancy has been that advocate for her teachers.”

Health teacher Mary Carlson has taught at Minnehaha for over 40 years and in that time has come to know Johnson well.

“Nancy has demonstrated that she is caring, compassionate and fair when dealing with faculty and staff,” said Carlson. “She is approachable and honest with those who ask for her counsel.”

Beyond managing the school and meeting with parents, Johnson has enjoyed simply observing the school itself.

“My favorite part of the job is watching the environment at school,” said Johnson. “It seems to really work. I love being a part of putting together a school culture where everyone feels valued, everybody feels like they have a place in it. We don’t hit that 100 percent all the time, but we do a great job here, and I have to give credit to the teachers and to the other administrators as well as to all the students. We all work together to make this a place that people like to be.”

While for her it “seemed like the right time to make a change,” she will miss the school where she has spent nearly two decades.

“Minnehaha has been a great place to be,” smiled Johnson. “It really has.”

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