The Northern Westchester Examiner

Former Peekskill Superintendent Judith Johnson Dies

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Judith Johnson passed away on Tuesday.

Veteran educator Judith Johnson, a former schools superintendent, Clinton administration official and current New York State Regent, has died, a Facebook post from the Peekskill City School District confirmed.

Johnson served as the superintendent of Peekskill schools from 2001 to 2011. During former President Bill Clinton’s second term, Johnson worked in the U.S. Department of Education. She initially served as deputy assistant secretary and subsequently as acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

“She was a strong advocate for public education always pushing us to provide opportunities to our children that were grounded in equity and excellence,” the school district Facebook post stated. “Regent Johnson was instrumental in laying a strong foundation for our children and families in the City of Peekskill and her leadership continues to be felt in our community.”

News of her passing prompted local leaders to remark on Johnson’s impact and inspiring life story.

“As a young girl growing up in a Brooklyn housing project, Judith saw first-hand the importance of educational opportunities,” Congresswoman Nita Lowey said. “She would later tell audiences all over the country that her professional success was determined early on by her selection for a public elementary school gifted program that put her on the path to college and advanced degrees. Throughout her career as a school administrator, Judith frequently was a trail blazer as the first African-American woman to hold high-ranking positions. She generously gave of her time and talents as a mentor and advisor to many.”

The New York State Board of Regents noted Johnson’s leadership at the local, state and national levels. In 2008 she received the New York State School Superintendent of the Year award, making her the first African-American to receive that honor.

“Immediately upon her appointment to the Board of Regents in 2015, she continued her unrelenting advocacy for state policies aimed at lifting up all students,” the New York State Board remarked in a statement. “While we are deeply saddened by Judith’s passing, we take comfort in the knowledge that she positively impacted the lives of countless students. Her legacy of caring and compassion will live on.”


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