COVINGTON -- DeKalb Technical College's Director of Admissions James Johnson Jr. wants to meet students' educational needs and empower teachers.
Johnson, 53, a retired Army veteran who has worked at DeKalb Tech's Covington campus since 2000, announced this week his intent to run on the Democratic ticket for the District 3 seat on the Newton County Board of Education. That seat is held by Cathy Dobbs.
"Becoming a member of the school board has always been a personal goal of mine for several years," he wrote in a statement. "I want to assist with making a difference in the lives of our students and the community in which we live."
If elected, Johnson, who served in the U.S. Army from 1974 until 1996 with the rank of sergeant major, plans to use his military experience and educational experience when making important decisions.
"As a leader, I want to do the right things for the right reasons, even if it is not the most popular thing to do," said Johnson, who has an associate degree in business administration from Columbia College, a bachelor's degree in criminology from St. Leo University and a master of science in higher education administration from Troy University.
The Georgia native wants students to continue improving important state and national test scores and for them to think about a global and local work force when applying to college.
"I will provide the guidance, resources and assistance needed," he wrote. "I will seek input from members of the community, teachers, administrative staff, parents and students in order to make good decisions concerning our students' educational needs."
Johnson, who also worked as a JROTC instructor in a South Atlanta high school from 1996 to 2000, said the school system must provide teachers with adequate supplies like books and state-of-the-art technology to get the best results from their students.
"There is no doubt we have the best teachers here in Newton County," he said. "We must empower our teachers with the best resources ... in order to continue to increase our students' educational success."
Johnson, who has lived in Newton County for the past 15 years, has never held an elected seat, but he has served as a member of the Fun and Fitness Scholarship Mentoring Program at Washington Street Community Center and on the board of directors for the Georgia Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, Newton County Reads, Charter Challenge Academy and the Covington YMCA. He also is active in several mentoring programs throughout the county and consults various schools, churches, businesses and other organizations and groups.
"I like the people in Covington and this community," he said. "We're a growing town."
He enjoys running with his wife of 35 years, Kim, who was the Parent Involvement Coordinator at the Newton County School System for more than 14 years, and spending time with their children, James III and Jeffrey, a graduate of Newton High School and currently a broadcast journalist for the U.S. Army. The Johnsons have six grandchildren.
In addition to the District 3 seat, Johnny Smith's District 1 and C.C. Bates' District 5 seats are up for re-election this year on the Newton County Board of Education.
Qualifying for the school board is April 26 through noon April 30 at the Newton County Board of Elections office, which is located at 1113 Usher St., Suite 103, in Covington. The qualifying fee for school board seats is $216.