Meridith Y. Johnson
Lewis & Clark Elementary School
Williston Basin School District 7
Williston, North Dakota
In her eight years as principal, Meridith Johnson’s primary goal has been to build an authentic sense of family at Lewis & Clark Elementary School through a collaborative and empowering approach to staff development, positive relationships with families, and an emphasis on social-emotional learning. Johnson has led the school in learning and implementing practices of Conscious Discipline, a shift away from traditional disciplinary models to a trauma-informed, relationship-driven approach. Under this model, teachers embed social skill lessons into everyday learning by establishing rituals and practices with students that cultivate belonging and promote emotional awareness and regulation. Johnson’s attunement to the social and emotional factors impacting students extends to teachers as well, and an important aspect of her efforts to build and maintain a strong team has been supporting teachers in developing emotional resilience in the face of multiplying challenges. Johnson’s own experience as a classroom teacher has taught her the centrality of strong family relationships to student success, and she has created new opportunities for students to engage with a variety of adults in mixed-age Draft Teams. To great effect, Johnson has also led a refinement of the MTSS process at Lewis & Clark to increase early intervention and cultivate a sense of collective responsibility for learning outcomes. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Minnesota State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Development from Southwest Minnesota State University.