I started out my career in education as a classroom teacher many years ago. Since then, I have had many roles in the education field, and I have been lucky enough to work with thousands of children. Throughout my career, I have come to understand that the work of educators—including the work of helping our most underserved students thrive—could be accelerated by improving our education system itself.
I’m excited to announce that I’m the new board chair at MinnCAN because that’s exactly the work that the MinnCAN team is doing: strengthening Minnesota’s school system through policy change, research and storytelling.
I joined the MinnCAN board a few months ago because of the organization’s underlying vision, which aligns perfectly with mine: a Minnesota where all children thrive in rigorous and relevant schools.
After receiving my bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Clark Atlanta University and my master's in Literacy Education from Hamline University, I embarked on a decades-long career as an educator. From being a primary Montessori teacher in Minneapolis Public Schools, to working in various public, private and charter schools in Minneapolis, Charlotte, Atlanta and Abu Dhabi, I have focused my life’s work on closing achievement gaps, particularly for children of color and students from low-income backgrounds. I know that when given the right opportunities, resources and expectations, every single child can accomplish remarkable things.
I have also stepped outside of the classroom to serve in administrative, leadership or board roles for MPS, KIPP WAYS Academy, the Academy of North Minneapolis, the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education and a special education advisory council for the Minnesota Department of Education. I currently serve as the head of school at Brightwater Montessori Elementary School in North Minneapolis.
As a teacher, administrator and parent, I have seen many joys and successes for my children and students. But I have also been frustrated that although progress for kids of color and low-income students is possible, and is happening in many communities, it is still not happening fast enough.
As MinnCAN board chair, my goal is to significantly accelerate efforts to transform policy and practice for our students. I believe we have an opportunity—a responsibility, in fact—to speed up these efforts by focusing on and strengthening the underlying system that for too long has not served all children well. Specifically, we strive to ensure that this system is focused, as we are, on three key goals:
- Students and their families have equitable access to high-quality opportunities and resources.
- Teachers and school leaders are well-supported and effective.
- Schools are rigorous and relevant, both academically and culturally.
I am excited to partner with the MinnCAN board, our staff members, our philanthropic supporters and our many partners in the community to work towards these goals, and I hope you’ll join us, too. Please sign up to receive email updates, follow MinnCAN on Twitter and Facebook and stay tuned for opportunities to help us advocate for Minnesota’s children, educators and schools.
Ann Marie Johnson has worked extensively in the field of public education with a special interest in closing the achievement gap for students of color. She is currently the Director of Brightwater Montessori Elementary School in North Minneapolis. Prior to this role, Ann served as a Turnaround Program Specialist with the Minneapolis Public Schools, Director of Student and Family Services and Interim School Director at KIPP WAYS Academy and School Leader at The Academy of North Minneapolis. She began her career as a primary Montessori teacher for MPS, and has taught in various public, private and charter schools in Minneapolis, Charlotte and Atlanta, as well as Abu Dhabi. Ann holds a bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Clark Atlanta University and a master's in Literacy Education from Hamline University. She has completed multiple Montessori trainings and holds additional certificates in Cultural Dynamics and Cognitive Coaching Training. She has served on several boards, including the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Multicultural Education and a special education advisory council for the Minnesota Department of Education.