Dr. Carol Johnson Dean – Equity in Education

Story Highlights
  • “Higher education has some parallels to the work I’ve done in K through 12,” she said. “… I think that in the work I’ve done in K-12, we’re always building a community around our schools, so I think that that’s not different than building a community around LeMoyne.”
  • “Most of our historically black colleges are located in neighborhoods that have economic challenges, but we need our graduates to come back and help to rebuild, in some cases, strengthen the community around the college, as well as make sure that we have a sense of community about how we can improve the life chances for our families.” Dr. Carol Johnson-Dean

In this episode, host Jeremy C. Park sits down with Dr. Carol Johnson Dean, Interim President of Memphis HBCU, LeMoyne-Owen College to discuss her legacy of providing equitable educational opportunities for students of various backgrounds.

Episode Notes

Carol Johnson-Dean, Ed.D., is currently the Interim President, LeMoyne-Owen College, Memphis, TN.  Prior to that appointment, she served as the Executive Director of New Leaders, South Region, a national organization providing leadership development for aspiring principals and teacher leaders.  She has provided oversight to New Leaders programs in Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and Minnesota.  She has also served as Executive Director, of Large District Support for the Tennessee Department of Education (2015).

Carol Johnson-Dean is a 2014 Harvard Advanced Leadership Fellow and a Visiting Professor at Vanderbilt/Peabody College.  She currently serves on the National Board of City Year, Memphis Advisory Board for Facing History and Ourselves, a member, Memphis Teacher Residency Advisory Board and Education Co-Chair, for the Memphis Symphony Orchestra Board, and Member First 8 Advisory Board, and an Ambassador, National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).  She is also a member, University of Minnesota Alumni Association Board and Memphis Chapter, Fisk University Alumni Association.

Johnson-Dean served as Superintendent of Boston Public Schools (BP) 2007-2013, having been appointed by a unanimous vote of the Boston School Committee.  As Superintendent of the 58,000-student district, she also served as a Cabinet Member for Mayor Thomas M. Menino.  Under her leadership, the Boston Public School District improved proficiency rates, narrowed achievement gaps, focused on access and opportunity, as well as graduating students prepared for college and career success.  During her tenure, graduation rates increased annually, the dropout rate decreased by over 40% to its lowest levels since 1977, and more students enrolled in Advanced Placement and the district more than doubled the number of 8th graders enrolled in Algebra I, demonstrating significant results on NAEP.

In 2012, Dr. Johnson-Dean received the nation’s highest honor for urban education leadership, the Richard R. Green Award, presented by the Council of the Great City Schools.  In 2010, the Boston Public Schools was recognized as one of the most improved school districts in the world by McKinsey and Company.  A strong advocate for Arts Education, Dr Johnson-Dean received the AASA/VHI Save the Music Award, increasing the percentage K-8 students receiving weekly arts instruction from 67% to 93% and doubling the number of art teachers in the district.

Dr. Johnson-Dean has a wealth of experience in Public Education as a teacher, principal and district administrator.  Prior to her appointment in Boston, Dr. Johnson-Dean was Superintendent in Minneapolis, MN, Memphis, TN and St. Louis Park, MN.  She was named Minnesota Superintendent of the Year and the Tennessee PTA Superintendent of the Year.  Nationally, Dr. Johnson-Dean has served on the Board of Directors for the Council of the Great City Schools, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley Board, the Harvard University Urban Superintendent’s Advisory Board, the University of Michigan School of Education/Dean’s Advisory Board and she has served on both the College Board and the Spencer Foundation Board (Chicago).  Dr. Johnson-Dean earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Fisk University in Nashville, TN and a Master’s Degree (Curriculum and Instruction) and Doctorate Degrees in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota.

She has also been awarded honorary degrees from LeMoyne-Owen College and Rhodes College, both in Memphis, TN and Simmons College in Boston.

Dr. Johnson-Dean is married to Dr. Willie Dean, a retired YMCA Executive. Together, they share six adult children.

Photo by Jim Webber / Daily Memphian

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