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

Published on: May 01, 2007

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.

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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