by Lisa Tome
Shawn Johnson didn't need a tour to learn his way around at Perryville Middle School.
He's walked those halls before.
Johnson, the school's new principal, attended the school in the mid-1990s. And he also worked there five years ago as a local support teacher.
Johnson graduated from Perryville High in 2001. He earned a bachelors degree from Towson University in 2005. He earned a masters degree in school leadership from McDaniel College and is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in educational leadership.
He started his career teaching English at Cherry Hill Middle School. After doing that for four years, he was assigned to be an instructional coach at five schools in the Bo Manor system. He then spent his year at Perryville Middle as LST. Next, he spent three years as assistant principal at Bay View Elementary. He wrapped up two years at North East Middle before being assigned to Perryville - his first principal assignment.
"I've certainly been fortunate, blessed to be in the system I grew up in. I had leaders who believed in me and helped me tremendously and I'm fortunate to be in this community," said Johnson.
About 560 students will start the school year at Perryville Middle on August 29. Stacy Rahnama is the school's new assistant principal. Johnson is enthusiastic.
"Perryville Middle is an outstanding school with great staff, a great student body, with a community that cares," said Johnson. There are people on staff he has worked with in the past. "Going back to Perryville is like going home," he said.
He has connections and has planned collaborations with Perryville Elementary. Jenni Hammer, that school's principal, and Johnson worked together at Bay View. He said there are plans to partner elementary and middle school students for reading programs and mentoring. "Our job is to be an advocate for the kids and staff," he said.
"There's something about a school that sits right in a town," he said. "Schools have a responsibility to contribute and be an active part of the community. School leadership is like community leadership and we're going to learn from the community."
He is very excited about the new school year. "I'm ecstatic. I'm looking forward to the new school year. I hope to do this well and find a way to give back," he said. "I'm going to miss North East Middle. During the past two years, we've done great work there. There's a real mix of excitement about this new opportunity and there is also a sense of loss.
"Every parent wants their child to be successful. It's our job to make that happen," he added. When Johnson is off work he remains in a leadership role in the community. He is associate pastor at New Life Faith Center near Port Deposit. He and his wife, Angie, have one son.