2009-02-26 / Front Page
NBTHS welcomes new assistant principal
Donna Johnson will officially begin July 1
Johnson has been the principal of Freehold Learning Center Elementary School in Freehold Borough for the past two years. Prior to that position, she served in East Windsor as both an assistant principal and acting principal at several schools.
Before becoming an educator, Johnson earned an associate degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She then decided to work toward a bachelor's degree in special education from Georgian Court College, Lakewood, because "I really just love kids." Johnson said she initially wanted to use art as a way to reach special education students, and that led her to a career in education.
She went on to receive a master's degree in educational administration and supervision from The College of New Jersey, and then another master's degree as a reading specialist from Georgian Court College.
She is in the final phases of completing a doctoral program based on the cultural proficiency of educators, and is scheduled to defend her dissertation this spring at Rowan University. She said that "enhancing and enriching my own pedagogy is pretty much my goal."
"Ms. Johnson is a talented, diverse educator with a wide cadre of transferable skills that are certain to continue the process of growth and design at NBTHS. This addition of Ms. Johnson ensures that NBTHS is to thrive during an exciting era in our history," NBTHS Principal Brian Brotschul said.
Johnson said she decided to come to North Brunswick because she is a "lifelong learner" and wanted to experience the climate of older students, so that she will have experience in all facets of pre-K through 12th-grade education.
"I look forward to seeing their socialemotional behavior and academic growth, to see where it takes them as they prepare for the next levels of their life," she said.
The mother of three also said that outside educators have a very positive view of the North Brunswick school district, and she "thinks this is an interesting place where I think I can make a big difference for the kids."
"This is a community that puts students' needs first," the Freehold Township resident said.
Johnson was approved by the Board of Education at its public meeting Feb. 18 to replace Horace Thorne, who was acting as an interim assistant principal and whose term, by law, has reached its limit. She will begin July 1 in North Brunswick.
"I think [Mr. Thorne] has served NBTHS and has enabled the students he has served to take ownership for their education, and begin a comprehensive study of their education and be productive citizens," Brotschul said.
Overall, the process to select an assistant principal was very comprehensive.
Brotschul said the necessary qualifications for the position were experience with student disciplinary matters, a role in formulating and implementing academic initiatives, excellence in professional communication, administrative experience and the ability to adapt to the learning climate at NBTHS.
Brotschul said there were 140 candidates who applied. He personally conducted a paper screening in mid-December, and over the winter break the top 13 external candidates were selected by a representative from the Social Studies Department along with two administrators. The top six external and four internal candidates were selected for a formal interview.
In January, the 10 candidates were interviewed by a panel of two administrators and three teachers. By the end of the month, Brotschul and two other administrators met with the three finalists. These three were then interviewed by Superintendent Brian Zychowski and Director of Personnel John Petela.
In early February, Brotschul met with stakeholders from the various levels of the search process and identified one candidate they felt was best to "fit" the dual role at the high school.
"There truly was one who satisfied a lot of the requirements set out in the search from the beginning," Brotschul said. "[Johnson] is a talent beyond description. It's refreshing to have her here."
Contact Jennifer Amato at