(July 25, 2019) — The Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) Board of School Commissioners voted to approve the superintendent contract for Aleesia Johnson officially making her the first African-American woman to lead the district.
In the last six months, under Johnson’s leadership as interim superintendent, IPS has created the Family and Community Engagement Team to better listen to and learn from families and the broader community to cultivate student success. IPS has received nearly $1 million in grants from JPMorgan Chase to enhance work-based learning for high school students, and from Salesforce to lead professional development for school and district leaders along with specialized training and support for new teachers. Johnson has overseen pay raises for all district employees, including some who hadn’t received an increase in 10 years. She’s also spearheaded the creation of a strategic plan to guide the district through the 2019-20 school year.
Johnson’s strategic priorities for the district include:
- Student-Centered Teaching & Learning
- High-Performing Team
- Racial Equity Mindset
- School-Centered Central Services
- Engaged Families, Team & Partners
- Sustainable Finances and Operations
“I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to serve and encouraged by the team of phenomenal and talented people we’ve built across the district from the classroom to the boardroom,” said Johnson. “I commit to do everything I can to lead our team with an urgent and laser-like focus to create the best learning environment for all children.”
As an educator for more than 16 years, Johnson has worked in a number of roles throughout Indianapolis, including four years with IPS where she most recently served as deputy superintendent for academics. As deputy superintendent, she oversaw all aspects of curriculum and instruction, performance and continuous improvement, postsecondary readiness, special education, student services and portfolio initiatives. She initiated the implementation of academic strategies that led to increased student academic outcomes and postsecondary success based on the district’s 3Es (preparing students for enrollment in a two- or four-year college or university, enlistment in the military, or employment at a livable wage upon graduation).
During her tenure in the district, she has successfully led efforts to expand school-based autonomy across the district, developed the Innovation Network Schools Model and launched the Postsecondary Readiness Team to further support the district’s 3E goals. Before her time at IPS, Johnson served as a teacher and principal at KIPP Indy College Prep Middle School. Johnson is also a member of Chiefs for Change and is a part of the current Future Chiefs Cohort.
A native of Evansville, Indiana, Aleesia comes from a long line of educators including her mother, who’s an elementary school principal; and her grandfather, Anthony Brooks, one of the few African-American administrators in the Evansville area in the 1970s and 1980s. Johnson is married, has three school-aged children who attend an IPS school and an adult stepdaughter.