Middle School is Johnson’s Great Love

Katie Johnson loves middle school and middle-schoolers.

Really loves them.

“This is where I’m meant to be.

“I started in high school and said, ‘I’ll never go near a middle school.’ But I love it and I love this age. They’re so energetic and enthusiastic…

“You see that spark, that creativity. They have an epiphany in class and then they’re skipping down the hallway the next second.”

The new principal of Belmont Ridge Middle School can give you a long list of reasons she loves middle school students.

“They’re honest…They’re curious. They want to learn. They are engaged. They are fun and funny…They make you laugh.

“It’s just a really fun age where you can build connections. You really feel like you’re making a difference. It’s such a vulnerable point for them. They change more in middle school – physically, emotionally, psychologically – than they do at any other time in their life, with the exception of birth to 2. This is really the time for us to make an impact.”   

Making that impact starts with a personal connection, Johnson added.

“I want them to know that they are cared for. That the sky is the limit for them. There is nothing they can’t do and we’re here to support them in all their endeavors. We’re looking at the whole child. We’re looking to help them excel academically. We’re looking to help them grow emotionally. We’re all in for them.”

Having her students excel academically means they need to be placed in the proper courses, Johnson said. “We really have to make sure the kids have their foundational skills.”

Johnson realizes Loudoun County is a very competitive area, but wants parents to keep that competition in perspective when it comes to course selection. “We’re going to meet your kid where they’re at. We’re going to push them to their potential. But in middle school we have to be sure to build that foundation so kids are successful later.”

Future regrets are something Johnson wants to avoid.

“I don’t want you to come back to me in ninth grade and say, ‘I wish we would have spent more time doing reading,’”

Gauging what the Belmont Ridge community wants is something Johnson has tried to get a handle on through a series of introductory meetings. “People want to see continued high achievement for kids. They want to see areas of exploration for gifted-and-talented students…

“Kids want to feel welcome and part of the community…

“One thing I would love to do is survey the kids to see what supports they need.”

Johnson comes to Belmont Ridge after six years at Harper Park Middle School, where she served as assistant principal. She also has been a social studies teacher at Eagle Ridge Middle School and a dean at Blue Ridge Middle School.

Johnson grew up on Long Island (she’s a Mets’ fan) and met her husband, Michael, on her first day of college. The couple has a set of twin boys starting kindergarten this year.

Johnson said having children enter a new school gives her common ground with parents sending students to middle school for the first time.

Parents sending students to Belmont Ridge should know their child will have a principal who loves them.

“They can feel comfortable talking to me about any concerns.”