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New schools chief has a direct, 'no games' style

Yes, she's direct, but Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson isn't apologizing for that any time soon. "I appreciate honesty and laying the facts on the table," says Goodloe-Johnson, who's just been named the new superintendent of Seattle Public Schools. "We don't have time to waste playing games. The only games I play are on the court.

"Sometimes people aren't accustomed to talking about the brutal facts. Yes, that can be described as being direct."

Goodloe-Johnson comes to Seattle after serving as head of the Charleston County School District in South Carolina. In accepting the 3-year-contract, she accepts numerous challenges, including rebuilding frayed goodwill between the district and the community after budget problems led to a painfully contentious school closure debate and overheated board meetings.

Goodloe-Johnson sees her first priority as closing the achievement gap, something she plans to do by developing a district-wide common curriculum. "If you look at the research about school districts that have been successful, they all have a core curriculum," she says. "You actually enhance an achievement gap when you have different curriculums at different schools." She also plans to create a district-wide student assessment system to give information to teachers, and create an "inclusion" model that allows exceptional children -- those with special needs -- to better integrate into schools.

Already, Goodloe-Johnson has released an "entry plan" for her first 100 days in Seattle, which includes assessing staff and building board and community trust. According to her plan, her first order of business will be to listen to as many community members as she can to find out what they want from their school district. She also plans to visit every school in the system in her first year.

Why is she right for Seattle? "I'm a 'people person,'" Goodloe-Johnson says. "I can walk into any room with any group of people and create connections, help them work collaboratively, work together." She also says her wide range of experience, along with her background in curriculum and instruction, will be assets to the district.

"Maria is a teacher's teacher whose own educational experience will complement the extraordinary strengths of the teachers and staff in our district," says school board president Cheryl Chow in a statement. "Her style is to hit the ground running to support the partnership that matters most, the one between teachers, students, and families."

Goodloe-Johnson has served as a school superintendent in South Carolina and Texas, and has worked as a high school principal in Colorado and a special education teacher. She holds degrees in special education, and earned her Ph. D. in Educational Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver.

She and her husband, their 2-year-old daughter, Maya, and Goodloe-Johnson's mother will move to Seattle in July. "I am excited about the challenge," Goodloe-Johnson says. "I've always looked forward to challenges."

Click Here to read Goodloe-Johnson's Superintendent Entry Plan for her first 100 days with Seattle Public Schools.

Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson

Personal: 49 years old, married to Bruce Johnson, mother of 2-year-old Maya.

Career: Four years as superintendent of Charleston County School District in South Carolina, with 43,000 students, 5,500 employees and a $308 million budget.

Formerly the assistant superintendent at Corpus Christi Independent School District in Texas. Also worked as a high school principal and assistant principal, and as a high school special education teacher in Colorado.

Bachelor of Science in special education from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln; Master of Arts in educationally handicapped K-12 from the University of Northern

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