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Assistant Superintendent Post To Johannsen
After completing five years as principal at Escalon High School, Joel Johannsen is moving on.

To the district office.

With the school district for seven years, Johannsen was tapped as the new Escalon Unified School District Assistant Superintendent, settling in to the role effective July 1.

"I'm really excited," he said. "There's a lot of great opportunities we have, even with this (financial) crisis we're in ... there's a lot of things we've put in place from the curriculum perspective."

The retirement of curriculum director Linda Frontz at the end of the 2009-2010 school year allowed for some reshuffling of positions at the district level. Johannsen moves in to the assistant superintendent role that had been vacant, while also picking up many of the duties that Frontz handled, with her post not being filled.

Johannsen originally came to Escalon as an elementary principal, serving in the dual role of principal at both the rural Collegeville and Farmington campuses. In his second year, he was principal at Farmington Elementary and Vista High, then moved to Escalon High School as principal, serving five years there.

"I've had elementary and high school experience, so I've seen the broader perspective of K-12," he said.

With a main focus being on curriculum, Johannsen said he is excited to be able to develop a comprehensive learning plan that will build on itself as students make their way through the Escalon system.

"A lot of the research now is showing what those best practices are, what specific practices are best for all learners," he said, noting that schools have to focus on being able to "address all learning styles and unique needs."

As far as accomplishments he is proud of during his tenure as principal at EHS, Johannsen pointed to the fusing of cultures at the school as being key.

"The campus is much more inclusive now," he said, with programs like Be The Change taking hold and students more likely to interact with a variety of groups instead of staying in one specific 'clique' on campus.

Revising the 'reading period' in school to allow for intervention and student support has also been beneficial.

"We've made significant inroads on our common benchmarks and with common tests in our classes, we're really able to compare apples to apples," he said.

Providing that extra support during reading period has helped achieve better student outcomes academically.

And then there are the sports.

"I'm really proud we won a Section championship my first year in football," Johannsen said, chuckling.

The 'Distinguished School' flag that flies in front of the high school is also a source of pride.

The toughest thing, however, will be giving up the daily, almost constant interaction with students for more of a paperwork-oriented job.

"That will be hardest part, leaving the kids. They're why you choose this career," he said. "But in my new capacity, I can help affect greater change for a wider number of students."

In fact, the students that were in fifth grade classes at Farmington and Collegeville when he started as principal there will be seniors this year at Escalon High.

Johannsen is also looking forward to working with new superintendent Ron Costa.

"I think he's going to be a good fit," Johansen said of Costa bringing vision and solid leadership to the district.

The search is under way for Johannsen's replacement, with a formal appointment anticipated later this month. Five candidates are in the final round of interviews.