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Sara Johnson Named Elementary Principal of the Year

July 01, 2006

Grandhaven (McMinnville) Elementary School Principal Sara Johnson has been selected as Oregon’s 2007 National Distinguished Principal, more commonly known as the Oregon Elementary Principal of the Year. The award is sponsored by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and in corporate partnership with AIG VALIC.


Johnson did her coursework at Lewis & Clark Graduate School to earn her Basic Administrator License in 1998 and her Continuing Administrator License in 2001. She has been principal at Grandhaven since 2003. The school, at which 60 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches, has earned three consecutive “Exceptional” ratings on the Oregon Report Card. Johnson’s previous school, Henry L. Slater Elementary in Burns, also received consecutive “Exceptional” ratings during her tenure (1999-2003).


“I think we have an opportunity, through Sara, to recognize the significance of the principal’s role in school-wide student success, and in this case, an opportunity to share how one principal has influenced schools under her responsibility to excel,” McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell wrote in nominating Johnson for the award. Russell noted Johnson’s “sustained performance” in leading “student achievement gains among different school populations and in communities from different geographic regions of the state,” and concluded that “such measurable results don’t come about by accident, but through a well thought-out and executed plan to bring about student success.”


Criteria for the selection of National Distinguished Principals include:


  • Is an active principal of a school in which a commitment is clearly evident through programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students, and through firmly established community ties with parents and local business organizations;
  • Shows a strong commitment to the principalship through active membership in professional associations;
  • Assumes an active role in his/her community, distinguishing himself/herself as a leader in civic, religious, or humanitarian activities;
  • Shows strong educational leadership by setting high expectations for school staff and students;
  • Demonstrates how the principal’s leadership has benefited curriculum, staff morale, community support, student interest, and the learning environment;
  • Demonstrates that he/she provides creative leadership to inspire teachers and others to achieve and contribute to the school environment;
  • Provides examples of service or achievements above and beyond what is expected in the usual school program.


Johnson will be honored, along with other state winners, at a two-day NAESP event next fall in Washington, D.C. The awards ceremonies include special tours and activities as well as professional interaction among the honorees. The two-day celebration culminates in a formal awards banquet.

From the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators.

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