Marc Johnson, an educator for more than 40 years, is codirector of the Central Valley Education Leadership Institute at California State University, Fresno. He is former superintendent of Sanger Unified School District.
Marc taught in a K–8 district for 16 years, served as junior high principal, and later served as superintendent/principal for seven years. He came to Sanger in 1999 as assistant superintendent for human resources and served as associate superintendent before being named superintendent in 2003. Shaping the culture of the district was a 14-year effort, and Marc has worked tirelessly to build and strengthen a culture of collaboration throughout the district.
Sanger serves 10,900 students, with large populations of minorities, children from poverty, and second language learners. In 2004, Sanger was one of 98 school districts in California named a Program Improvement District due to the low performance of the English language learner population. Two years later, it was one of the first districts in California to exit PI status due to the continued improvement in student achievement in all groups, but in particular with ELLs. Districtwide implementation of the professional learning community process has served as the catalyst and vehicle for continuing improvement.
The district’s success has generated opportunities for Marc to share Sanger’s success story throughout California. More than 100 districts throughout California have visited Sanger to see firsthand the power of collaboration. Sanger has been invited to become a member of the California Collaborative for District Reform and was one of seven districts that participated in a collaborative effort to write California’s application for Race to the Top Phase II funding. Sanger continues that collaborative effort as a member of the California Office to Reform Education (CORE). This group’s collaborative work resulted in the development, filing, and approval of a district-led waiver of NCLB requirements.
Twenty Sanger schools have been recognized as California State Distinguished Schools, 18 schools have been recognized as Title I Academic Achieving Schools, and three schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools. All three K¬–8 schools have been named Schools to Watch (one twice), making Sanger only the second district in the United States to have every middle school on this list. All 13 of the elementary schools were honored by the Bonner Center for Character Education at California State University, Fresno for their outstanding schoolwide Character Education programs. Sanger has been recognized as the outstanding Community of Caring District in America by the National Center for Community of Caring at the University of Utah. Marc was named the AASA 2011 National Superintendent of the Year.
Marc received a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from California State University, Fresno, and a master’s degree in education from Fresno Pacific University.