Bryan Johnson is one of eight candidates running for the Ann Arbor Board of Education. There are four seats to fill for four-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2019. The general election is Nov. 6. Johnson recently answered WLAA’s candidate profile:
Name: Bryan Johnson
Background: I attended AAPS from first through twelfth grade, at Abbott Elementary, Forsythe Jr. High School and Pioneer High School. Graduated from Pioneer in 1993. I also served as the President of the District Wide Black Parent Support Group, on principal interviewing committees. I have a BS In Business Management from Hampton University, a MBA from the Michigan Ross School of Business. I have 8 years of business development experience at companies like FedEx, Motorola, and IBM and 10 years of experience in higher education.
How long have you lived in Ann Arbor: I was born and raised in Ann Arbor and lived here for the first 18 years of my life. After college, I lived in Schaumburg, IL and Charlotte, NC before moving back to Ann Arbor 12 years ago.
Family: I have two daughters ages 10 and 13 who attend Pattengill Elementary and Tappan Middle School. My wife of 15 years is a school teacher.
Occupation: I currently work as a Associate Director of Admissions for the MBA Program at the Ross School of Business.
Government/political experience: None.
Why are you running for the Board of Education at this particular time? I want to help more kids who grew up like me to use education to meet their full potential. This is the right time because my daughters are no longer small children and they can help around the house as I work on board duties.”
What are some of the issues you feel are important at this time?
Student mental health: We need to invest more strategically to improve student mental health in the district.
Special education: Our school system has been failing Special Education for a long time and we need to fix many of the systemic issues that slow the system and hurt our children
Achievement/resource disparities: The school district needs to work more creatively to help reduce resource gaps that lead to low student achievement.
What do you think you bring to the Board of Education?
I believe I’ll bring a unique voice, perspective and skill set to the Board. I’m a father of children in the district, an alum of the district and a former resident of a low-income neighborhood in the district. I feel I can be a champion for some of the parents and students whose voices often go unheard. I also have a background in business, higher education, and community activism that could add interesting diversity to the Board.
You are running as part of a three-person ticket – how did this come to be and why present yourself in this way? I was interested in running for school board but I didn’t know much about campaigning. I was also aware of the success of the Hunter, Harmony, and Jeff campaign and thought running a joint campaign would allow me to work with like-minded people, share resources, and to gain critical mass on the board should we win. That’s why I sought out some HHJ supporters and asked if they’d work with me, and we worked together to find additional like-minded people. I think we offer a great, diverse ticket that will bring a lot to the Board.
The No. 1 issue in most people’s mind is student safety. Are the schools doing enough in this area and is there anything more you think can be done.
I don’t think the schools are doing enough in this area. I do believe our schools aren’t focused enough on mental health and hiring more social workers and others to directly address student mental health. Every time I hear about a mass shooting, I fear what would happen at our schools. We need to be on top of this issue.