Kim Johnson, special education director for the Owensboro Independent school district, said a strong leader is someone who communicates effectively, is hands-on and focuses on the needs of students.
Johnson is no stranger to being classified as a leader. Last July, she was awarded the Kentucky Association of School Administrator’s Spirit of a Leader Award. She also was recognized as the Outstanding Special Education Administrator of the Year by the Council of Administrators of Special Education.
“There could not be a finer example of leadership in the field of special education than Kim Johnson,” Owensboro Independent Superintendent Larry Vick said. “She models excellence in collaborative leadership. Kim has an extraordinary compassion and concern for people and has developed a warm, caring environment in our district for students as well as staff and parents.”
Johnson taught special education for 10 years and earned her Rank I in 2001. She has served as district special education director since 2003.
“I have had the opportunity to be a part of a very progressive district that takes the initiative to develop leadership within the district. I like to consider myself a leader that works hard to communicate effectively with teachers, administrators and parents,” Johnson said. “I strive to make sure that every decision we make in the special education department is based on what is going to be best for students.
“It is my responsibility to keep us focused on our vision and to provide the support at the school level that will allow us to meet the needs of all of our students,” she added. “I like to be hands-on leader, and I want to be able to walk into classrooms, call students by name and understand their identified needs. It is also my goal to recognize and celebrate those individuals who are doing an exceptional job in the field.”
Johnson has designed and implemented an array of innovative programs emphasizing research-based instructional programs and practices, interagency collaboration, compliance with regulations and training of teachers, according to Juli Hale, district director of school and community relations. “Facilitating the provision of high-quality services to children with disabilities has been the focus of a number of Kim Johnson’s professional endeavors,” Hale said. “Major accomplishments in this area focus on services to students with autism, the establishment of work groups for staff, innovative communication methods, summer training of teachers and community agency collaboration.”
Johnson has served as a local volunteer coordinator for Special Olympics for 20 years in Owensboro, Daviess County and surrounding counties.
“While (she) works tirelessly for students, teachers and families of this school district, she also gives an extraordinary amount of her time to better the services and resources for special needs children across the region and state,” Vick said.