NYSSA — Darren Johnson, of Nyssa, who holds a doctorate in education administration from the University of Idaho, is starting at his first year as superintendent of the Nyssa School District. But he’s no stranger to the district, having previously served as a vice principal and then principal of the Nyssa Elementary School. Previously, Johnson, of Nyssa, was vice principal of elementary school from 1998 to 2007, and principal there from 2007 to 2009, before taking a principal position at a military base in Germany. Upon returning to the U.S. in 2011, Johnson worked at an elementary school in Provo, Utah.
He recently answered questions posed to him by The Argus Observer via email.
Argus: Where are you from, originally?
Johnson: I am originally from Idaho Falls, Idaho. My parents still live on the farm where my six siblings and I were raised.
Argus: When did you first come to Nyssa?
Johnson: I first came to Nyssa in 1995. I was the high school and middle school Spanish teacher.
Argus: Why did you want to become an administrator?
Johnson: I wanted to become an administrator because of some great principals I had as a youth. I loved how they treated all the kids, and their job looked like a lot of fun.
Argus: Why did you choose to work in Utah?
Johnson: I wanted to go to Germany because it was an interest of mine to travel Europe, but also for my children to learn about new people, places, and ways of doing things.
Argus: What did you and your family gain by living in Germany?
Johnson: In Germany, I was the principal of Smith Elementary School on the U.S. Army base at Baumholder, Germany. My children attended the American schools there along with the children of the military personnel who were based there. We lived in a German village about 15 minutes away from the base, and my children rode the bus each day to attend school on the Army base. It was great for my children to receive American-style schooling, and live in a German village with neighbors who spoke only German to us. It was wonderful to live in such a unique circumstance. We learned so much from our German neighbors and friends, and we also learned so much about the U.S. Army and the sacrifices our fellow Americans make each day to serve in the military. We lived in western Germany, not far from the French border, so we were able to travel easily to many places in western Europe. Paris, Amsterdam and Switzerland were each only four hours by car, so we drove to each of those places many times, enjoying the sites and learning about the different history, languages and cultures. We enjoyed many other great travel opportunities while there, which helped our children learn and appreciate the history of World War I, World War II, and many other topics where being on location really enhanced their learning. For example, my oldest son was able to earn his Eagle Scout award while we lived there, and his culminating project was to repair the headstones at the Luxembourg American cemetery where many American soldiers from World War II are buried, along with General Patton, their commanding officer during the war. It was a very touching opportunity to feel that we were doing a very small “something” to honor those who gave their lives for us.
Argus: Why was it important for you to get your doctorate degree?
Johnson: It was important for me to get my doctorate degree to learn as much as I could about my chosen profession, but also to expand my job opportunities.
Argus: Why did you apply to become Nyssa School Superintendent?
Johnson: I decided to apply for the position of Nyssa Superintendent because I love Nyssa and the wonderful people here. I felt that my work experiences had prepared me to be able to lead a school district in ways that would be helpful to students and teachers.
Argus: Are you beginning to feel at home in Nyssa again?
Johnson: Yes, we are feeling at home in Nyssa. It always takes some time to settle in to a new place once you move, but since we lived here before, it feels like we never left in some ways. The people in Nyssa are wonderful and friendly, and we feel grateful to live in such a great place.