Louise Bennicoff Johnson was born on December 21, 1957 in Reading, Pennsylvania. She enjoys her Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and knows how to cook the traditional dishes like shoe-fly pie, schnitz und knepp, and the one-time-a-year special treat, the Faschtnacht. She graduated from Reading High School. She earned a BS in Biology from Penn State and began a career in the health insurance industry. After the birth of her second child, she returned to school at CSU Los Angeles and earned teaching credentials in biological and in physical sciences. She did her student teaching in Biology at Alhambra High School.
She began her teaching career at Temple City High School where she taught chemistry and geology. She enjoyed coaching her Academic Decathlon team to improved performance amongst the stiff completion in Los Angeles County. Each year, she enjoyed taking a group of students to Yosemite Institute where city kids got a chance to learn about the great outdoors. Later, she moved to the central valley where she taught chemistry and physics at Corcoran High School. She was advisor to an active science club and the local chapter of the California Scholastic Federation. Each year, she enjoyed taking a group of students to the Catalina Island Marine Institute where county kids got a chance to learn about the ocean. One of her favorite things is connecting with one or more of her many former students and learning about their lives as adults.
She went on to become the principal of Bret Harte Elementary School in Corcoran where she developed a course for high school students where they were taught how children learn to read and served as tutors for struggling readers in the early primary grades. This cross age tutoring program was the focus of her masters’ degree project at Fresno Pacific College.
In 1996, she moved into district level administration, taking the post of K – 12 Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Dinuba Unified School District. Being a single parent of two teenagers at the time, she completed her Ed.D. in one of the first distance programs through the Boyer Graduate School of Education. Her dissertation was based on computer adaptive testing. When a student is engaged in a computer adaptive testing situation, the computer responds to the student making questions harder when the student answers correctly and easier when the student misses the question. She was promoted to assistant superintendent in Dinuba and oversaw all aspects of the instructional program and human resources.
In early 2004, she ventured north to take her first superintendency in the Konocti Unified School District on the shores of Clear Lake. Her tenure brought a significant increase in student achievement and new programs for students with disabilities and English Learners. The community passed a general obligation bond for school construction and she is most proud of replacing old portable classrooms with new construction and the opening of six new school libraries as well as a new gymnasium on the campus of Lower Lake High School.
She served the Ripon Unified School District as its superintendent from 2008 - 2013. She is deeply grateful to the wonderful Ripon Community and all of the educators, parents, and community members who pulled together to assist the schools in navigating the California state budget crisis and the deep funding cuts that the district had to endure. She is very proud of building a strong leadership team, engaging the entire community in the development of a long term strategic plan, passing a bond measure for the reconstruction of two elementary schools, and having the chance to return to teaching by coaching the Ripon High School Academic Decathlon team zero period each morning for three years. She also served as an adjunct professor of school administration for CSU – Stanislaus and enjoyed teaching and learning along with a group of 30 outstanding young future school administrators.
Dr. Johnson is the proud “Nonna” (Italian for grandmother) to two little girls. Her daughter, their mother, is married and teaches the 6th grade GATE cluster in a middle school. Her son lives in the bay area and is a programmer for new applications in mobile devices. One of her favorite activities is taking the granddaughters on trips with Nonna and Poppy and introducing them to hiking and observing plants and animals in their natural environment.
A Rotarian since 1996, she is a member of the Nevada City 49er Breakfast Club. She also enjoys visiting the other clubs in our county. She has served as President of the Rotary Club of Clearlake and the Rotary Club of Ripon. One of her life goals is to participate in an International Immunization Day and assist in the Rotary Goal of eliminating polio from the earth. She also has served on the Board of the Friends of the Memorial Library, Give Every Child a Chance, and The Teachers’ College of San Joaquin.
Louise and her husband, Jeff, live in Nevada City and love every day of our lives as engaged members of this beautiful community. They look forward many happy years here.