Behind the Desk: In Depth with Principal Johnson

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Iyonnah Doss

Principal Johnson is the current principal of State College Area High School. “Being a principal means the buck stops with you,” Principal Johnson said. “You also carry a lot of weight on your shoulders, you have a lot of responsibilities and it’s a great undertaker.”

Iyonnah Doss and Abigail Kann

Have you ever wanted to know more about your high school principal? State High’s principal, Curtis Johnson, shared a bit about his accomplishments, experiences, and personal life. 

This year will be Principal Johnson’s fourth year as the principal of State High. When he first became principal in 2016, some of his thoughts were, “How am I going to do this massive job? There are just so many things you are responsible for. You’ve got 2,200 students and 250 staff members, it’s just a massive job.” 

Principal Johnson hadn’t always wanted to be a school principal. When he was in high school, he wanted to own his own Big and Tall store. He graduated college with a business minor and a broadcast cable major. “I was going to work the camera behind the scenes,” Principal Johnson said. He then took a year off to play basketball overseas. During that time, he took an interest survey to find out what career would match his interests. “I should have done that before I went to college, but it didn’t occur to me to have the opportunity to do that,” he said. The survey revealed that he would make a good school counselor. He went back to school and took two years to get his secondary education in counseling. He worked as a school counselor at Reading, PA School District for five years, then he became the assistant principal there for three years.

As many students of State High know, Principal Johnson’s day starts by checking IDs at one of the main entrances. “I don’t think that’s something he’s forced to do,” junior Spencer McLaughlin said, “so that fact that he does that and volunteers to do that is really nice of him.” He then checks in with all of the administrators, checking their schedules to make sure they are all on the same page. From there, his day usually consists of back to back meetings with teachers, parents, students, or staff.

“I see one or two students a day for various different things, it could be from starting a new club, a complaint, or wanting to do a class project, such as an article,” he said when asked how often he has meetings with students. 

“I think that he is a great, confident, nice man,” said junior Margaret K. when asked about Principal Johnson.

“Smiling…I’ve never seen him not smile,” junior Rachel Krick said.

When asked what was the hardest part of being a high school principal, he said “The buck stops with you in most cases, [and] you’re responsible for so many things. I’m fearful that something will slip by the cracks.”

Some of Principal Johnson’s accomplishments while being principal of State High include opening up a new school, creating the zero period tutoring and the ACE program, and the react program, which allows students to report bias if it occurs in our school.

Outside of school, Principal Johnson enjoys reading, fishing, camping, and kayaking. He went to Penn State and played basketball in the NCAA tournament. Principal Johnson is open to meeting with students about anything. He will most likely listen and treat you with kindness you would expect from a friend.

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