Carmen Johnson, representative of District 9 of the St. Tammany Parish School Board for the past 10 years, has tendered her resignation from the Board due to a change in employment.
“It was a very hard decision to make. I feel that I have lost two families,” said Johnson. Director of property management at Slidell Memorial Hospital for 22 years, her position was eliminated in October 2008. “I have lost my family at Slidell Memorial and now I have lost my school board family,” she said.
Johnson has represented parts of Slidell, including the Clearwood Junior High and Whispering Forest Elementary areas, since November 1998, when she was appointed to fill a vacant seat. She was re-elected in 1999, 2002 and 2006. Active in the school system since her son started kindergarten, she was active in the PTA on the local, district and state levels.
“I was always known as the quiet one on the board,” she said. “But I had two great schools to represent and really enjoyed the position.”
School Board member Beth Heintz praised Johnson for her work and diligence. Heintz said that Johnson’s commitment to the PTA really prepared her to be in touch with parental involvement in the job, a similar background to Heintz’s. “She was very dedicated to the job and always worked for what was best for the children. I also enjoyed attending conferences with Carmen because she was as engaged with the process as I am,” said Heintz.
Johnson said she enjoyed working with the board because the board acted as team for the good of the students. Everything was done as a group and the programs brought into the system such as computers and technology always benefited the students. She added that going to the conferences and meetings enabled school boards members to help the system keep pace with national trends. The professional development for the board members help them serve the parish’s students.
“I am so proud of the accomplishments the board has made over the years,” she said.
Information such as budgets, test scores and other news is made available to parents quickly and the transparency has only helped the students.
“My own child, Rhett, is a product of this school system. He attended Bonne Ecole, Slidell Junior High and Slidell High School and will be receiving his master’s degree in architecture from LSU in May,” Johnson said.
She said one of the greatest additions to the classroom in her tenure has been the Promethean boards.
“Even parents love to play with them at open houses,” she said.
Johnson has accepted a position with Aramark Corporation and will be assistant director for environmental services at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.
Although Johnson said the company is willing to let her off to attend meetings, her training for the position has sent her all over the country and is still in progress.
“It’s just a scheduling conflict, but right now, I’m still traveling,” she said.
She is excited about her new job, and Johnson said she would still get to help children, making their environment (at the hospital) safe.
“Some doors close, but others open,” Johnson said.
School Board president John Lamarque announced the resignation at the meeting Thursday night and said that Johnson “will be hard to replace.”
Anyone interested in filling the vacancy must be 18 years of age or older, a resident of Louisiana for the past two years, a resident of St. Tammany School Board District 9 for the past year. A letter of intent must be hand-delivered or mailed to the Superintendent’s Office at the C. J. Schoen Administrative Complex, 321 N. Theard St. in Covington by 1 p.m. Jan. 29 for consideration.
An appointment will be made by the school board after the official resignation letter is sent to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, probably sometime in February. A special election will be called this fall, with the general school board election scheduled for October 2010.