Laura Johnson , school director at Pottstown School District since December 2019
Photo caption : I ’ m standing outside Pottstown Middle School at dismissal . In a typical year we have nearly 1,000 Pottstown students learning here each day . This place and these students represent the beauty and the potential of the Pottstown community .
What motivated you to become involved in board service ? When my children entered school , I started volunteering in their classrooms . Over time , I got involved in other aspects of the district , including our Family Advisory Committee , a middle school mentoring program , and advocacy related to fair funding and charter reform . The more I got involved , the more I loved our district and felt invested in seeing our students and community thrive . Joining the board felt like another fitting way to serve my community .
What is your biggest passion outside of board service ? I think if you asked my friends they would tell you that “ fair funding ” is my number one passion . That said , I ’ ve been deeply concerned about justice issues for many years , predating my involvement with education advocacy . I believe that when we address issues of inequity and work toward communities where each person is seen , valued and afforded equal opportunity , everyone benefits . Justice isn ’ t a zero-sum game – it leads to thriving for all .
If you are employed / volunteer , where do you work / volunteer and what is your job ? I am a leader of Pennsylvanians for Fair Funding , an advocacy group working to ensure equitable education funding for every student . Fellow Pottstown board member Ray Rose and I co-founded the organization about a year ago as we were looking to move the issue forward in the early days of the pandemic .
What aspect of your education has changed the most ( or not at all ) since you were a student ? Technology , especially in the last year , is absolutely key to education . When I was a student , technology was far more peripheral .
What issue in public education is most important to you right now ? The most pressing need I see in public education is the need for equitable funding for every student . PA ranks worst in the nation when it comes to the gap in spending between wealthy and poor districts , with students of color being especially harmed . These inequities are plain as day in Pottstown as our students can look at all our neighbors and see that they are afforded opportunities that Pottstown students don ’ t have access to . The message to students of color and students from poor communities is that they are less valued than their whiter , wealthier peers . From my vantage point , this is having compounding negative effects on both individuals and our commonwealth . On the flip side , creating an equitable and well-resourced education system would bring beneficial results for both our students and our broader society .
Where did you graduate from high school ? I graduated from West-Mont Christian Academy , a small private school right outside of Pottstown . After high school I took college courses online and received my bachelor ’ s in holistic nutrition .
What was your favorite extracurricular activity when you were in school and / or your favorite subject ? I played basketball from grades 6-12 . I won ’ t claim any great talent , but I deeply enjoyed the competitive outlet . My favorite subject was history . I took every history and civics class that was available . I did this partly because I loved history , and partly because the teacher , Mr . Rob , had a wonderful way of making each student feel seen and cared about . Thinking back on that is a great reminder that there is nothing more foundational to learning than a strong student-teacher relationship .