Kristy Johnson

Cayuga Secondary School Graduate,
Paris District High School Leader

You Belong Here features Grand Erie leaders who were once Grand Erie learners. It’s a then-and-now look at the lessons in learning, well-being and belonging that shaped their school experiences and continue to inspire them today.

Kristy Johnson's educational journey began in Haldimand County, and has taken her across Grand Erie as an educator and administrator. She is the principal at Paris District High School.

Tell us about your secondary school experience… in what ways did it allow you to become the leader you are today?
You-Belong-Kristy-then.jpgI went to Cayuga Secondary School and was involved in a lot of different activities. I played field hockey, sat on Student Council, helped organize Grade 9 orientation and was the editor of the yearbook. Each of these was a chance to work together with peers and mentors as a team, support each other, and accomplish a goal. These activities gave me the chance to not only make the most of my time at CSS, but also allowed me to build many leadership skills that I use today. 
What were the popular trends when you were in secondary school?
High school in the '90s was definitely the grunge era. A lot of people had their own bands and we had a Battle of the Bands at least once a year. Most people wore some variation of baggy jeans, band t-shirts, flannel shirts and Doc Martens. No one had a cell phone, and dial-up internet was only just starting to become available in rural Haldimand by the time I finished high school. We spent a lot of time listening to music, being outside and just hanging out with friends.
What’s it like being a leader in the same school/board/community where you were once a student?

You-Belong-Kristy-now.jpgIt has been really interesting to see how things have changed over the years. I have been a student, teacher and administrator in the same board, and at each stage, there is always more to learn about this community. I appreciate the opportunity to reconnect professionally with people that I went to school with in elementary or secondary school, and also working with teachers that were once my own teachers and mentors. Being a leader is all about relationships, so continuing my journey in the same community where I was a student is a chance to create new relationships, but also to build on relationships that in some cases are decades old.
What made/makes your school community special (both where you attended as a student and where you are now)?
The people that I work with every day make this school and board a great community. The staff, students, families and community members all contribute to creating a school environment where people feel like they belong. I have been very fortunate to collaborate with, and learn from, a wide variety of people that are all working together to improve student achievement and create a school culture of equity and inclusion.
What does ‘Learn Lead Inspire’ mean to you?
It’s a dedication to creating and fostering an environment of learning where all members of the school community feel valued. For me as a leader, it means being a part of the team, working alongside staff and students, listening to different voices and leading by example. Only by working together and supporting each other can we drive change to improve our learning environments.