UCS superintendent announces retirement

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published August 2, 2020

 Christine Johns, right, poses with Molly Mayernik, center, at a past Elementary Teacher of the Year award ceremony.

Christine Johns, right, poses with Molly Mayernik, center, at a past Elementary Teacher of the Year award ceremony.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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Christine Johns’ role as Utica Community Schools superintendent will soon draw to a close, but she will still be working this fall to help the school district return back to the classroom. 

At a special July 29 Board of Education meeting, Johns announced her intention to retire sometime early this fall. She has been UCS’s superintendent for around 14 years.

“I have enjoyed collaborating with the Board of Education to advocate for students and teachers, address student achievement, implement new programs and curriculum, overcome budget challenges, and pass bond issues and millages,” Johns said in a statement.  “Together, over the past 14 years, we have profoundly impacted the children and families of our community.”

School district officials credit Johns for overseeing, among many other things, the rise of the Gene L. Klida Utica Academy for International Studies, the Utica Center for Science and Industry, and the Stevenson MADE program — the last focusing on manufacturing, automation, design and engineering. 

School officials said she also presided amid a 94.2% graduation rate and increases in literacy and math aptitude, and she led as Utica High School underwent its building improvement project.

In a statement, Johns looked back on her career at UCS, adding that she is proud of the district’s employees and their commitment toward meeting student needs. 

“Utica Community Schools is fortunate to have talented, caring and passionate educators,” she said. “It gives me great satisfaction to know that UCS will continue to have a positive impact on our community.”

UCS Board of Education President Robert Ross said Johns made the decision to retire because her husband is retired, and they have future plans to collaborate on.

“This is a decision that she reached on her own,” Ross said. “We’re actually happy for her that she has an opportunity to do that. Not everybody can, on their own terms. 

“We will definitely miss her. She has been a strong, coherent leader for 14 years here at UCS. And she’s done a fantastic job of looking out for the interests of kids. The focus has always been on student achievements and making sure all students have had an opportunity to learn, to have access to the best programs that are available.”

Ross also praised Johns for her dedication, her skills at building strong, competent leadership teams and empowering leaders districtwide.

The school board will soon begin to consider a process to find a new superintendent, even as it continues to approve school plans for the upcoming school year, Ross said. He said the pandemic will likely affect the search for a new superintendent to some degree. He said the school board plans to have an interim superintendent fill in, so the board can carefully choose a successor. 

“A search can take a long time, an indeterminate amount of time, because you don’t want to pick the wrong person,” he said. “You want to find the right person. It’s a difficult process, and it depends on the candidates and the timing.”

Find out more about Utica Community Schools by visiting www.uticak12.org or by calling (586) 797-1000.

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