"I don't have big shoes to fill; I have broad shoulders on which to stand," said new head of school Brian E.M. Johnson about the retirement and excellent work done by past president, John E. Trainer, Jr., Ph.D.
Johnson is the seventh head of school for Bolles in its 81-year history. He also bears the distinction of being the first head of school to have children currently enrolled at three Bolles campuses. Johnson moved his family to Jacksonville from Colorado this summer, and immediately got to work at Bolles – eager to launch the new school year and connect with the community. He and his wife, Cindy, have three children: Kyle, Luke, and Quinn. The family, along with dog Cruz and cat Dasani, has settled nicely in a beautiful home in the heart of San Marco.
"I am really blessed," said Johnson. "I have an incredible family, and I am working with a great group of people who love kids." Johnson knows the importance of caring mentors and how they can play a valued role in a child's life. It was his own fourth grade teacher who made such an impact on him that he pursued a career in education. That interest in teaching and in schools generally continued through high school, is where he says he was affected by the school's motto "Not to be served, but to serve." "That reminder has been a major influence on my life," stated Johnson.
Service has, and continues to be, a theme that plays out in Johnson's professional and personal experiences. He has helped families in many areas of the country through his teaching, coaching, and administrative career. He served his country while in the United States Army as a helicopter pilot and platoon leader. He also serves his fellow man through countless community service activities and gives back generously through many channels. He and his family have been very active in the area of benevolence. In addition to helping build houses in Mexico, the Johnsons led two week-long work weeks for students through Habitat for Humanity in Connecticut and went on other mission trips to Cuba and Nepal. The family also has helped give out frozen turkeys to those less fortunate. The message of service Johnson instills in his own family also resonates at The Bolles School, where service is a vital part of the school's character education and development program.
"This is a thrilling time to be in education because of the rapidly changing environment," Johnson stated in a recent media interview. "I enjoy coming together with other professionals to figure out how to do schools better and better. But we are never going to let go of the idea of whom and what these kids are becoming."
Johnson's penchant for identifying opportunities and working to find solutions has become evident during his short time at Bolles. Already, his resolve in this area is transforming the Bolles experience for many students, teachers, parents and staff.
"I have always been a problem solver, and I will try to help where I can," explained Johnson. He cites often the Bolles motto of "The Bolles Way: Pursuing excellence through integrity, courage, and compassion." Johnson uses this motto in his pursuit of those solutions, when meeting with students, and when talking with faculty and staff. He not only follows these words, but believes these words and lives by them.
There are many topics that have Johnson's attention moving forward. Among other issues he wants to pursue the following goals: ensure that Bolles continues to find the remarkable in children by offering an environment with All Things Possible; study new research about how new technology can best fit and advance our curriculum; develop and broaden our student and faculty population in the area of diversity and to continue seeking more funds to achieve this goal; and continue to seek more opportunities to expand the boarding program and attract even more students from all over the globe to Bolles.
He also is focused on making the entire Bolles experience even better for families and is paying special attention to new Bolles families to make sure they have a great start.
Johnson and his family are also off to a great start. With three children on three different campuses, the Johnson's are in many places—and often at one time. If you have not yet had the opportunity, we hope you will meet Brian Johnson and his wonderful family and give them a big Bolles welcome!
- Prepped at Taft School in Connecticut, earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Stanford University, and a master’s degree from Harvard University in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy
- Extensive experience in independent education in a wide spectrum of roles including administrator, teacher, coach, dean of students, admissions staff, and dorm parent.
- Headmaster at Alexander Dawson School (Lafayette, Colorado) from 2006-12; Head of upper school at Louisville Collegiate School (Louisville, Kentucky) from 1998-2006 while also performing the jobs of dean of students and college counselor; Dean of students, English and History teacher, wrestling and football coach at Severn School (Severna Park, Maryland) from 1995-98; Assistant director of admissions, dorm supervisor, history teacher, and football, wrestling, and lacrosse coach at Pomfret School (Pomfret, Connecticut) from 1990-94
- Throughout his career in education, Johnson has embraced technology, diversity, service, and leadership as key components to an excellent educational experience.
- Served in the United States Army from 1988-90 as Attack Helicopter Platoon Leader and Aviation Liaison Officer based out of Fort Hood, Texas.
- Married to Cindy Johnson with three children, all at Bolles, Kyle ’16, Luke ’18, and Quinn ’22.