Jason Johnson is known by most of his students as “Mr. J.” The nickname, which got tacked on years ago, has stuck and now brands everything the Frederick County Board of Education candidate does.

“My life’s passion is to educate and inspire,” Johnson said.

A former Frederick County Public Schools teacher and assistant director of the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) program at Johns Hopkins University, Johnson said his life has finally lined up in the right ways where he can commit to serving on the school board, which is something he has wanted to do for a long time.

Johnson’s priorities as a candidate include advocating for more funding for the school system and improving how the school system pays and retains teachers.

Johnson admitted that he himself had to leave FCPS partly because of pay.

Andrea Artman wants to bring a non-education perspective to FCPS
David Bass wants a greater focus on special education
Rae Gallagher wants to continue the work she's started
Lois Jarman wants to focus on the whole student

“On my exit letter, they asked me why I was leaving. I wrote, “I don’t want to leave, I have to,” Johnson said.

As the parent of one current FCPS student and one graduate, Johnson feels the board should make financial decisions around the focus of making sure teachers are paid well and competitively.

“We need to find where are we wasting funds and where can we make adjustments to prioritize teacher pay,” Johnson said. “If it’s a priority, it’ll get done...if it’s a priority you will make adjustments, you will make cuts and do what is necessary.”

If elected, Johnson also hopes to work to address what some call the achievement or equity gap that exists within FCPS.

Johnson says he knows it’s there but that he views it differently.

“The first thing we have to address is a different gap that makes the other gaps true, which is a perception gap,” he said. “When you see a child of color you automatically think there is an achievement gap there.”

For Johnson, addressing implicit bias and perception both inside and outside the classroom, is the first step in erasing inequalities and disparities that may exist. Perception also affects students, Johnson said, because they themselves start to believe that there is a gap between them and others.

“If you don’t see a gap, they won’t see a gap and you’ll just drive them further ... the top thing we need to do is expecting kids to achieve high and not mentally putting them down,” Johnson said.

He also wants to see more of a focus on mental health, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to make sure we’re still preparing our students while understanding that they have been through trauma. We’ve all been through trauma and so we have to not only help our students but help our teachers,” Johnson said.

He has ideas such as a roaming counselor or therapy worked into the school day. Most of all, he wants to make sure students and teachers don’t come back feeling like they can’t talk about how they’re feeling or what they’ve been through.

“We have to make it where it’s not taboo...we’ve all gone through this,” Johnson said.

He also hopes to see improvement in how the school system handles distance learning, should a second wave of the coronavirus hit in the fall.

As a parent, Johnson said the past two months of distance learning have been a roller coaster. He was proud of FCPS in the beginning stages, getting devices to students while other counties were scrambling.

“However, once we had the hardware in place, we lost step with our implementation,” Johnson said. “Going forward I really think we have to get our teachers, parents and students prepared for working on a synchronous model. I’d like to see it be a lot more organized where there is a class structure.”

If elected, Johnson said he will be a team player and bring optimism to the board while working to make sure FCPS students have what they need to tackle whatever the future throws at them.

“I have a heart for the county and I am beyond enthusiastic and beyond innovative and creative...and I will work my hardest to make sure Frederick County becomes the leader in the state,” Johnson said.

Follow Katryna Perera on Twitter: @katrynajill

(6) comments


yes lets coddle them even more. and im sorry but i dont look at black kids, and think they are disadvantaged. poor is poor i went to midtown and there were poor kids living out in wolfsville. i had friends that lived in a shack with no running water. so color dont have anything to do with it. but leftests like this guy will have you believe that only minoritys are the only ones that have a hard time


Hello,Thank you for your comment.

In the interview I was asked about my thoughts on the "achievement gap" between students of color and their peers. In my full response I stated that students perform based on the expectations you set for them. It has been proven time and time again, when you expect more from students they rise to the occasion. Moreover, I spoke to personal examples where this was proven true.

Not all students of color are economically disadvantaged, and not all students who are economically disadvantaged struggle in school.

I am a non-party affiliated candidate and only wish to serve to empower parents, serve students and support FCPS in becoming the best school system in the state.

Thank you.

-Mr. J


Agreed Mr. J. Challenging students to rise to their individual potential should be the goal. They can do it if they learn to believe in themselves. Overcoming the obstacles of adversity and excelling in school or work lifts one out of that adversity, into a better life. They just need to believe.


Great reply Mr. J, you have my vote as well as my wife's.


Thank you, Mr J for a succinct and excellent response. We both voted for you and depending on when the ballots actually arrive via mail, hope to see those votes count!


Thank you all very much. I am honored to have your vote.

Warm regards,

-Mr. J


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