Dr. Carol R. Johnson
2011 Passion for Action Leadership Award Recipient
Dr. Carol R. Johnson has been superintendent of the Boston Public Schools since August 2007, having been appointed by a unanimous vote of the Boston School Committee after a national search. As superintendent of the 56,000-student district, she also serves as a Cabinet member for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
Dr. Johnson has a wealth of experience in public education as a teacher, principal, and administrator. She previously served as superintendent of the Memphis City Schools in Tennessee, the largest district in the state, with 119,000 students. During her tenure, she successfully removed more than 100 Memphis city schools from the state's No Child Left Behind "high priority" list. In 2007, the Tennessee Parent Teacher Association named her the Tennessee Superintendent of the Year.
Prior to her appointment in Memphis in 2003, Dr. Johnson had been superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools, where she was named Minnesota Superintendent of the Year.
While in Memphis, Dr. Johnson instituted a "Fresh Start" program for schools on the state's Corrective Action list; reorganized the district administration for cost-efficiency and better service to students; and initiated a new district wide reading campaign, MCS Reads. Under her leadership, the district was selected for the "New Leaders for New Schools" program, the Harvard Business School/Harvard Graduate School of Education Leadership Program, and the New Teacher Project, as well as a $16 million "Striving Readers" federal grant.
Dr. Johnson's mantra in Memphis - Every Child. Every Day. College Bound. - captures her belief in equity and access to quality education for all children and serves as a force for excellence in preparing children for post-secondary education.
In 2007, she received the "VH1 Save the Music Award," given by VH1 and the American Association of School Administrators to a school superintendent who has been effective in restoring instrumental music to his or her school district. She was also named the 2005 "Communicator of the Year" by the Public Relations Society of America-Memphis chapter.
In 2008, the National Alliance of Black School Educators presented her with the Joseph E. Hill Superintendent of the Year Award. Nationally, Dr. Johnson is chair of the Board of Directors for the Council of the Great City Schools (Washington, D.C.), and serves on the Spencer Foundation Board (Chicago) and the Harvard University Urban Superintendents' Advisory Board, and she has served on the College Board.
Dr. Johnson is married to history teacher Matthew Johnson, and they are parents of three children.
She earned a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Minnesota.