Yelm Community Schools announced Thursday the promotion of John Johnson to lead Yelm High School as its new principal.
The school district made the announcement detailing a few major shifts in the school’s leadership in a recent Facebook post.
Alicia Brown will be hired on by the district to fill Johnson’s role as assistant principal and Zach Suderman was also announced at a recent school board meeting to fill an assistant principal post recently left vacant by Thad Nelson, who was hired on as principal of Adna Middle/High School.
Superintendent Brian Wharton said he’s excited to turn a new leaf at Yelm High School and believes the change in leadership, especially with Johnson at the helm, will allow the district to continue its focus of student achievement.
“It was evident through the internal process that we ran that there were strong internal relationships that he had built there as his time as an assistant principal. You combine that with his experience and it led me to say it was the right decision at the right time,” Wharton said. “I am really, really excited about the new team at the high school.”
Wharton said the hope is that Johnson will bring minimal transition to the school, allowing Yelm High School and its leadership to continue with current initiatives and bring the necessary changes, mostly graduation requirements, brought on by this year’s legislative session.
Johnson has a long history with the district. The new principal came to Yelm Community Schools nearly 20 years ago and has served in a variety of leadership roles since. He first started at Mill Pond as an elementary administrator, according to Wharton, and was eventually promoted as the school’s principal.
After Ridgeline Middle School was built, Johnson then served as the school’s first principal. Johnson was also part of the planning team that helped bring Ridgeline to fruition.
“I can’t wait to take the reins so that I will be able to lead in a way that focuses on the greatness that is YHS so that our kids will graduate and we’ll help them with the next step in their life,” Johnson said.
His contract will start in July and he will begin serving as the high school’s principal for the 2019-2020 school year.
“We have got a great school and our focus is on our kids, our community, our families. I really want to develop structures and systems that will close gaps and give our kids the opportunity to have a voice in an environment that gives them a place of hope,” he said.
The principal position at Yelm High School became open after previous principal Ryan Akiyama was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and having a pair of brass knuckles in early May. Akiyama will likely take a teaching role with the district in the fall.