OTTUMWA— Ottumwa High School will have a new principal on July 1. Cory Johnson was approved by the Ottumwa Board of Education at Monday’s meeting.
Johnson, a Donnellson native, is currently a School Improvement Specialist with Great Prairie Area Education Agency. He has served students in a variety of roles including school psychologist, an adjunct instructor of education and psychology, and high school teacher. He earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Education Specialist degrees from the University of Northern Iowa and has an Education Leadership endorsement from Viterbo University. He is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist.
Johnson is excited about his newest position. “Ottumwa has a lot of things going well,” he said. “The graduation rate and student achievement have both improved in recent years.” He also saw improvement in the achievement gaps and recognizes the community support and partnerships that exist.
His current role has provided an opportunity to work with school leaders. “I’ve always been impressed with the people in Ottumwa,” he said. “Good people and quality instructors, I’m looking forward to being a member of the team.”
As a School Improvement Consultant, Johnson brings a unique perspective to Ottumwa. He has experience supporting effective collaboration (PLCs), engaging school leadership teams in continuous improvement cycles, providing professional development, and promoting effective instruction for all students. The role has also provided an opportunity to see various programs. He has also had a variety of leadership experiences and opportunities, including serving on several statewide committees including the Statewide School Improvement Team, Iowa Support Team, EdInsight Trainers, and work teams focused on assessment, leadership, and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS).
During the interview process, he spent some time walking the halls and meeting with students. He was impressed with both. “All of the students were polite, mature young adults who have pride in their school. You’d never know you were walking in a building with 1,200 students,” he said. He will continue efforts to engage all students, both in the classroom and in activities. “I want every student to have a person and a thing,” he said. “Someone they are connected to and something to connect to. When students are engaged in the classroom and in the broader school community, they get a sense of belonging. When this happens, you know you’ve built a learning community.”
Success as a principal will be determined by collaborating with the OHS staff. “It’s about the power of the group,” he said. “It’s not about what I want, but what we need as a team.” He plans to take that team vision and move it forward to continue to provide programs that meet the needs of all students at Ottumwa High. “I’m ready to bring my experiences from several school districts and focus on the improvement of one,” he said.
Johnson is married and has two preschool-aged children.
“We are excited to welcome Cory Johnson to our team,” said Superintendent Nicole Kooiker. “Cory has been in many schools working with administrative teams and brings a wealth of knowledge around teaching and learning. He will bring new perspectives, strong communications skills, as well as an outside view and knowledge base that will help us grow as a district.”