Cheryl Johnson

Johnson credits friends, family and co-workers for helping her succeed. Submitted photo

Cheryl Johnson, executive director of the Goodhue County Education District, won CASE’s 2021 Outstanding Administrator of Special Education award for her dedication to students with disabilities.

“I am not sure it has sunk in yet,” Johnson joked when asked about the distinction. “I am honored to have been chosen. There are so many others out there that are worthy of this.”

The Council of Administrators for Special Education (CASE) recognizes an administrator each year that is making a significant contribution towards leadership and field practice.

With over 20 years of experience, Johnson qualified as the perfect candidate.

“I have been in my current position as executive director of the GCED since July of 2007,” Johnson said. “Before that I served as assistant director of special education for the Red Wing School District. I started in Red Wing as a special education teacher in 1998. Prior to that I taught in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York.”

She has also held many leadership positions at the Minnesota Administrators for Special Education, including Legislative Committee chair, Nominations Committee chair and Membership Committee chair.

“I love problem solving and the best part of my job is the people,” Johnson said. “I get the chance every day to work with great people -- the students, the staff, my colleagues, parents and legislators.”

Johnson holds a master’s degree in special education from Marywood University and a Minnesota Teaching License in elementary education, emotional behavior disorders, learning disabilities, mild to moderate mental disabilities and moderate to severe mental disabilities.

“Cherly takes great pride in empowering and encouraging others,” CASE said in a press release. “She has mentored a multitude of new school leaders, offering her wisdom in guiding schools, personnel, finance and most importantly, the students with unique learning styles. Superintendents, administrators and legislators in Minnesota frequently seek Cheryl's advice because of her expertise in effectively leading special education programs in public schools.”

Johnson credits her parents, sons and those she has worked with for helping her get where she is today.

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