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29 June 2007
JSU Alum Teresa Johnson Named Principal
of Pleasant Valley Elementary School

By Jennifer Bacchus
News Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Teresa Johnson

Teresa Johnson feels good about her new position as principal of Pleasant Valley Elementary School — in a way she feels as though she is closer to her roots.

“Even though I’m new to Pleasant Valley and I don’t know many people out here, I feel like this is a good place for me to be because I went to Weaver and my great-grandparents and my grandmother were from Piedmont,” said Johnson, who has studied her family’s genealogy. “I feel good about being here and I’m looking forward to many years.”

At the June 19 Board of Education meeting, the Calhoun County School Board approved Johnson’s appointment as principal. Though she doesn’t officially begin her job until July 1, she was at her new school the very next day. Calhoun County Superintendent Judy Stiefel joined her on her first trip.

“I felt I needed to go out and go with her to the school,” said Stiefel. “I had talked to the bookkeeper the day before and mentioned we were coming and she said, ‘Would you like for me to let some of the teachers know?’ and I said yes, that it would be great for some of them to meet her. We walked into the media center and there were 50 folks. There were teachers, there were aides, there were custodians, the president of the PTO and his wife were there. I felt like that showed that that school is the supportive school we knew it to be.”

Stiefel believes Johnson’s warm welcome is a sign of healing at the school, given the tension after the school board’s March decision to discontinue then principal Susan Gaines’ contract.

Johnson felt very welcomed by the group and looks forward to working with them for many years.

“I’m coming in to a good situation,” she said of the school’s high test scores and academic excellence. “It’s not like I’m having to go in and fix things, it’s just like I’m having to come in and help the school continue to do well and maybe help them do some of this healing and move forward.”

A desire to serve in administration developed in Johnson over the past several years. She has spent the past two years at White Plains Elementary as the assistant principal. Though she has always loved being in the classroom with children, she feels administration is where she is needed. There, she can help the school improve and grow, while still being a part of the lives of her students.

“You do feel like you are stretching out your hands and you’re able to be more involved with children’s lives and teachers and community members. It just broadens it,” she said.

Johnson received her bachelor’s in elementary education from Jacksonville State University in 1990. Her master’s in elementary education came from the University of Alabama in 1995, and last year she received an education specialist degree in educational leadership from JSU.

Continuous learning is important to her, and she plans someday to continue on and earn her doctorate.

She began her time at JSU after a junior-year transfer from Lipscomb University in Nashville where she had met her husband, Alvin. The two have been married for 22 years and have a son, Randy, who is now a student at JSU.

Her time spent in the classroom as a student has given her tools needed to teach other teachers. Reading is particularly important to her and when the Alabama Reading Initiative began, she was chosen as one of the first trainers, presenting the plan to other teachers around the state.

She and her family currently live in Oxford, but she hopes to move closer to her new job next summer, once the hectic pace of her first year on the job is past and she is able to take the time.

“My mother lives in Alexandria. I am a Calhoun County girl,” said Johnson. “I don’t want move and take on this new job. Maybe next summer.”

About Jennifer Bachus

Jennifer Bacchus is a staff writer at The Jacksonville News. She can be reached at 256-435-5021 or via e-mail at

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