By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Scott Johnson has his sights set on the ‘new normal.’
Whatever that may be.
Recently appointed as director of education for the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, the long-time educator will take the helm from Deb Crawford in October.
“As we return to school and face-to-face learning, I see a great opportunity,” Johnson told The Voice in a recent interview.
“I’m curious about the new normal,” he said, noting the system will need to adapt after the pandemic “flipped the world upside down.”
The past year saw students go through three provincial lockdowns, putting students outside schools more than they were in them, forcing students, parents and teachers into the uncharted waters of online learning.
Understanding how students coped during the pandemic and reorienting them to the face-to-face learning will be the primary focus of the first few weeks of school, Johnson said.
“As a Catholic system, we need to embrace everyone and meet them where they are,” Johnson added.
The new director is hoping school clubs and extracurricular activities will return, providing social opportunities and forge a pathway for students to work on social justice issues.
While Johnson believes his board did a fine job of adapting during the pandemic, he recognizes educators “still have a lot of work to do.”
The incoming director started his career in the Greater Toronto Area, where his first job after university was in corrections.
He spent five years working at a young offender’s facility before embarking on a 28-year career as a teacher.
He has spent the last six years as an education superintendent with the St. Clair board.
Johnson’s experience with troubled youth has made him sensitive to students at risk of falling through the cracks.
“We want to support marginalized students,” he said.
Johnson said he didn’t set out in the education field with the idea of one day becoming a director of education.
“It wasn’t something I set out to do,” he added. “One opportunity at a time presented itself and the timing just seemed right.”
Johnson said he works with an “incredible” team, adding he’s been honoured to work under Crawford’s leadership.
“Deb is an incredible leader and an incredible human,” Johnson said.
Board chairman John Van Heck said Johnson’s breadth of experience and leadership skills make him “well positioned” to lead the board into the future.
The St. Clair Catholic District School Board has two secondary schools and 23 elementary schools.
It has 2,500 high school students and 6,000 elementary students within its system.