Yolanda Johnson is a lifelong Newark resident who was educated in Newark Public School District. She is the mother of 6 children who spent over 20 years volunteering in Newark Public Schools. Yolanda believes that parental engagement and involvement plays an intricate part in a child’s educational experience and therefore the child is more likely to succeed.
In 2014, Yolanda noticed that parent presence was zero to none at her child’s school so she started a parent group named Eagles Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) based in George Washington Carver and Bruce Street School for the Deaf under the umbrella of the National Parent Teacher Association where she was the President. As a result of membership, volunteering and engagement, two parents were hired by the district as teacher aides.
Yolanda was chosen as the parent representative to join Mayor Baraka’s Education Steering Committee on tours to several Community Schools in other states and the results birthed the Southward Community School Initiative. As Yolanda brain stormed ways in which to increase parent engagement, she and another parent created a parent survey which was extremely instrumental in getting parents involved.
In 2015, Yolanda took a deeper dive into increasing parent engagement and founded a parent organization named Parents Educating Parents, Inc.(PEP,Inc.) where she is the Chief Executive Officer. Parents and Caregivers have the opportunity to reach out to PEP, Inc to understand the language being used and learn ways in which to navigate through the educational system.
Yolanda has worked with a community member to advocate for prek 3 & 4 enrollment slots and was successful at filling 500 slots within 30 days. Because of the urgency of preschool enrollment, they both have negotiated expansion of prek 3 and 4 inside George Washington Carver and Bruce Street School for the Deaf that is expected to be ready for the 2018-2019 school year.
Yolanda is currently the PTSA President at Malcolm X Shabazz where she reinstated the traditional high school "toast off" for the 2017 graduating class. Yolanda’s first priority if elected to Newark Public School Board, is to renew trust between the parents, educators, and district staff by improving family and community engagement.
- Educators are faced with difficult decisions across the district so she plans to improve teacher retention and recruitment by placing high emphasis on professional development and support.
- She will improve overall academic achievement by ensuring wraparound supports are in place for students specifically a culturally relevant curriculum that is rigorous challenging and engaging.
- Improve student enrollment by implementing sustaining interventions and creating family-school-community partnerships
Yolanda plans to promote fiscal responsibility by committing to monitor:
- Adequate Budget and Local Cost Share to ensure the district is following guidelines to provide thorough and efficient education.