Promoting Instructional Alignment


By Stephanie Johnson and Faya Paul

Presentation June 2018

About the Presenters


Stephanie Johnson
Deputy Superintendent, Office of School Improvement
Georgia Department of Education

Stephanie S. Johnson, Ed.S grew up in Chatom, Alabama and graduated from Washington County High School. She received her undergraduate degree from University of Alabama double majoring in Psychology. Additionally, she received a Master of Education degree from University of West Alabama and Educational Specialists’ degrees in both School Counseling and Educational Leadership from the University of South Alabama. Her specialty areas are instructional leadership, data analysis, rebuilding organizational norms, focusing on successful and measurable academic tactics, communicating a positive school vision, and gaining support from key influencers. Her areas of specialty inform her leadership approach, as she views those factors as the foundation of academic and community success for all. 

On March 14, 2017, Georgia Department of Education announced Stephanie Johnson had successfully turned her third school around in the role of head principal. Johnson earned her title as turnaround principal in Georgia. In the past 12 of 23 years serving as an educator, she led the turnaround of Sequoyah Middle School, Jonesboro High School, and currently serves as the "Mission Possible" turnaround principal of Maynard Jackson High School in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to serving as a principal, Johnson was an assistant principal on Morrow High School’s turnaround team in Clayton County where the superintendent promoted her to a head principal's position after only 10 months. Experiences prior to her principal roles were teaching secondary language arts and serving as a school counselor. Johnson has been recognized and awarded for her leadership that promotes equity and access for students attending schools that has resulted in large increases in graduation rates, climate ratings, student performance on standardized exams, and college admission rates while closing the achievement gap for students in at-risk subgroup populations throughout her career as an educator. Recognitions and awards follow: 2017 National Principal of the Year Finalist, 2016 Georgia Principal of the Year, 2017 Shining Star Leader of the Year Award, 2016 Atlanta Public School Principal of the Year, and in 2016 Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp proclaimed Johnson as an Outstanding Georgia Citizen and Goodwill Ambassador for the State. Johnson’s most recent awards and recognitions also include the following: 2017 Georgia Senate Servant Leader Award, 2017 Greatest Influence in Changing a Community Award from Georgia House of Representatives, 2017 Lifetime Memory Mission Award Recipient where she built a school in a community that did not have one in Rio Grande, Dominican Republic, 2016 Nation Builder Principal of the Year, 2016 APS Chief of Schools Principal Award Recipient, 2016 Live Healthy and Thrive Pinnacle Leader of the Year, 2015 Department of Defense Patriotic Employer of the Year, 2015 Joe Richardson Principal of the Year, 2015 Principal Advisor for the United States Department of Education Turnaround Initiative with Deputy Secretary of Education James Cole, and 2014 Atlanta Families for Excellence in Education Principal of the Year Award. Johnson is a motivational speaker and presents key leadership and instructional strategies in workshops throughout the country. She has an extensive list of additional awards and recognitions. 

Johnson serves on the Georgia State Principals Center Advisory Board, Georgia Association of Secondary School Principal’s Board of Directors, and received recognition from University of California Los Angeles professor and author Pedro Noguera in a recently published article for her practices defeating the odds and breaking barriers with education in her service to communities in need of transformation. Johnson has been recognized as an exemplary leader by Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, she is recognized as a Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement’s Power of 100 Leader, and in 2016 Fulton County Commissioners Office proclaimed March 16 as Stephanie Johnson Appreciation Day. Stephanie Johnson views a collaborative school environment as the key to creating successful students and teachers. She believes partnerships with parents and community members are essential to enriching the educational experience for all stakeholders. Johnson and her husband Gary Johnson are proud parents of three children - Taylor, Jacob, and Stephen. During her free time, Stephanie Johnson enjoys volunteering with her church, attending University of Alabama athletic events, and reading educational text. 

Faya Paul
Director of School and District Effectiveness
Georgia Department of Education

Dr. Faya Paul is the Director of School and District Effectiveness at the Georgia Department of Education.  Faya has 18 years of school-based experience as a turnaround leader assisting with transformation of schools and area clusters. Faya has served as a teacher, school administrator, district administrator at the elementary, middle, and high school level.   In addition, she has also served as a professor at the collegiate level.


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