Principal Johnson recalls, “While in college I started mentoring and tutoring younger students in the community. My own sense of purpose grew way beyond the football field and I realized I could become a change agent for struggling students.” Those early days of mentoring ignited a new passion for teaching, inspiring kids, and learning what it takes to become a leader in the field of education.
Principal Johnson says filling the role of Principal at Detroit Premier Academy feels like coming home. He grew up on the West Side of Detroit and knows firsthand some of the challenges his students might be experiencing. “I sat in these chairs. I am them. And I want every student to know I will always be here for them.”
He speaks of the strong relationships among staff, parents, community, and volunteers — “and that’s what makes this school so special” he says. For example, the Holiday Hair Affair held recently at Detroit Premier Academy provided young girls the chance to get their nails done and the boys could get haircuts. “Something as simple and fun as that event creates confidence and self-esteem, and that carries forward into the learning environment where it really matters.”
The Moral Focus Virtues taught at every National Heritage Academy school have always played a strong role in Principal Johnson’s life. “When teachers engage with students to intentionally focus on virtues like courage and gratitude, it makes a lifelong impact” he says. “And, we create an environment that is a daily reminder of kindness…and how to persevere through challenging times. This really is a second home for our students.”
Principal Johnson’s post-high school NFL dreams may not have become a reality but Detroit Premier Academy landed a first-round draft pick when he decided to lead the team here.
A Few Things About Principal Johnson
- He graduated from Jackson State University with his degree in Physical Education. He then worked as a science teacher, a truancy officer, a physical education teacher, and athletic director.
- In 2010 he received his master’s degree in Education and Administration from Jackson State University.
- He was previously Dean at Regent Park Academy — a National Heritage Academy school.
- He is a self-described “Girl Dad” as he and his wife of 18 years have two teenage daughters.
- He enjoys attending sporting events and traveling and exploring different cities and places with his family.
- He says it feels like “just yesterday” he was pushing one daughter in a stroller while carrying the other during his many coaching days on the sidelines. Now, they are visiting potential colleges together!
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Detroit Premier Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Detroit, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.