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Cultivating Equity. Building Community.

Vote November 7th, 2017

A mother, a teacher, and a veteran


I was born and raised in Queens, New York and lived there until I graduated from high school and joined the United States Marine Corps. Now I have 3 pretty cool teenagers; Jazmyne 17, Chloe 15 and Caleb 13.

As a parent, I’ve always encouraged my children to pursue their interests and try things they might not have considered. I support them in all their activities whether it's sports, choir, writing, or community service. They have had opportunities through our local Boys and Girls club such as exploring the arts, discovering their talents and being nominated to participate in the Youth of the Year. Jazmyne was the 2016 Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence and Kansas’ Youth of the year.

Jazmyne, Chloe and I have traveled to Hiratsuka, Japan through the Sister City Exchange program. It’s through these wonderful programs and our amazing library that our lives have been enriched with what our community has to offer. Caleb is eagerly waiting for his opportunity to apply for the exchange in summer of 2018.

I chose to attend The University of Kansas to get my degree in education and become a teacher because I wanted to inspire children regardless of where they come from. I believe that all children can reach their full potential if given the right tools. That is why providing equitable resources for students and teachers is so important.

As an educator for the past 10 years, I’ve worked with students from diverse backgrounds and abilities. Like my children at home, I encourage and support my classroom students to reach for their goals and dreams. In doing so, I am constantly meeting them at their level and differentiating instruction, while setting high and appropriate expectations for them. I also support their non academic activities by participating in Girls on the Run and sponsoring activities in our school Talent Show and by participating in school spirit week by dressing as a Superhero!


Being in the military definitely taught me discipline, how to think strategically, to be a team player and to persevere. Although my time in the United States Marine Corps did not turn into a career, it contributed to making me the mother, teacher, and overall human being that I am today. I continue to fight for what's right, but the weapons I use now to complete the mission are passion, determination, and experience. The mission I accept everyday is to give my best to the children I serve and to our community.

Why I'm Running

New Perspective

As an African-American female, I bring a needed perspective to Lawrence Public School's equity work. As both a parent and educator, I've participated in special education evaluations and can bring additional perspectives to serve students and families with special needs.


I'm committed to closing the achievement gap to ensure all students benefit from our schools. I support expanding the district's initiatives, such as the focus on Culturally Relevant Teaching, and the focus on attracting and retaining quality, diverse teachers to meet this goal.

College & Career Ready

By continuing vital conversations, and listening to parents, students, teachers, and other community leaders, we can expand and strengthen community partnerships and bring engaging, relevant, 21st Century learning to all of the district's students.


I fully support Melissa Johnson as the best candidate to serve as school board member for USD 497. As a mother and educator of children, her work is about equity, about raising the achievement of all students, while eliminating the racial predictability and disproportionality of achievement. I've seen Melissa's passion and persistence. You will see it too when you vote for and elect Melissa Johnson.

Njeri Shomari, LMSW

I have known Melissa Johnson for almost a decade. In that time, I have observed her dedication to making our community a better place -- as a parent, teacher and community volunteer. As a teacher, Melissa has a unique lense into the world of public education. She understands its challenges, and she will bring this insight, educational experience and expertise to the table. I am confident Melissa will make decisions that will benefit not only my children but all the children of Lawrence Public Schools. Melissa is smart, humble, hardworking and compassionate. I am thrilled she is willing to serve. I enthusiastically endorse Melissa Johnson for school board.

Jackie Stafford Teacher, Liberty Memorial Central Middle School and Parent of two public school students

As a teacher in the Lawrence school district, I support Melissa Johnson for School Board. She carries the unique perspective of a veteran teacher, a dedicated parent, and an active Lawrence community member. As a School Board member, Melissa has demonstrated her commitment to listen to the community, advocate for students, and support district initiatives.

Andy Bricker, Lawrence High Teacher

I've known Melissa for several years and have always respected her honesty, integrity and strength. Before working with her on the school board, I knew her as a mom and a community member. She looks at the world through a lens of compassion and justice. Our school district needs Melissa's perspective and thoughtfulness to ensure our district continues to be forward-thinking and responsive to student needs.

Jessica Beeson, School Board Member 2015-present

Melissa Johnson has my support and vote to retain her current seat on the Lawrence School Board. Over the past few months serving with her on the board she has proven to be an engaged, thoughtful, curious and passionate school board member. She focuses on what is ultimately best for all of the district students when analyzing issues and making decisions. Her perspectives as a preK-12 educator, single parent and person of color have greatly added to the board's diversity of worldviews and life experiences, something I found very beneficial as a fellow board member. Events over the last year have also clearly demonstrated the need for this increased diversity, a need that will continue to exist moving forward. And so I wholeheartedly give my endorsement to Melissa Johnson to retain her Lawrence School Board seat.

Marcel Harmon, School Board Member 2015-present

I’m so pleased that Melissa Johnson is willing to serve our community as a school board member. She’s smart, engaged, and skilled at working collaboratively. As an educator, mother, and woman of color, she brings a range of helpful perspectives to our board. This is especially critical as we continue our work to address equity issues to make our school district a place where all students achieve success. Melissa has my enthusiastic support and my vote!

Vanessa Sanburn, School Board Member 2009-present

I first encountered Melissa Johnson when she was my daughter’s kindergarten teacher at Cordley Elementary. That year, Melissa was an engaging and passionate teacher who made learning a pleasure and obviously cared for all the children in her class. Subsequently, I got to know Melissa at countless school and community events, where I saw her to be an active and caring parent raising her own (great) kids. Melissa has my unqualified support for the school board. I know her to be intelligent, fair-minded and deeply committed to education in our community. I know she’ll work hard to make Lawrence Public Schools a system that prioritizes every single student.

Brendan Lynch

Melissa Johnson is a breath of fresh air! I have taught second grade beside her for five years and it has been a true blessing. She is positive, uplifting, and caring. She knows how to advocate for herself and others in a respectful manner. I enjoy working with her because she is reflective with her practice loves to share her knowledge and is eager to learn from others.

Latosha Berry, 2nd grade teacher, KCK Public Schools

I met Melissa when my son interviewed for the Lawrence Sister City trip to Hiratsuka. She struck me as a very open and engaging person, making an incredible first impression. Since that time I have seen her host a variety of Japanese students through the Sister City program, as well as through KU. Melissa clearly gives of herself to benefit others and her community. Running for the school board is another prime example of her concern for society and the importance of serving others.

Elizabeth Halsey

Melissa is a wonderfully, caring person and is an amazing Mom. I have known her for about 8 years. Our children have been friends since elementary school. She will be a great asset to the school board.

Kristi Heinz Kouloukis

I’ve known Melissa since she began teaching in 2007. She was my son’s first teacher, and he was in her first class. Melissa is warm and vivacious, and she is a great communicator who can connect with people from all different backgrounds. I’ve known since day one in the classroom that Melissa always has the children’s best interests at heart. As a teacher, she has been an advocate for children in the classroom. By running for a position on the School Board, Melissa has found yet another way to pursue her passionate advocacy for the children in our community. Good luck, Melissa!

Sandra Tompson Issa, Associate Director for Student Services, University of Kansas Applied English Center

I have had the pleasure of teaching second grade with Melissa these past five years. She is a delightful, kind, and caring person to work with and I feel blessed to call her my friend. I think Melissa is an excellent teacher because she truly cares for her students and she strives to do her best for each and every one of them.

Lisa Heit, 2nd grade teacher, KCK Public Schools

As a mother of students with special education needs, a teacher, a veteran, and a participant in the Sister Cities program, Melissa is highly qualified to continue serving on the Lawrence School Board. She's committed to closing achievement gaps among students across our district. Melissa's life experiences offer the Board a perspective it desperately needs in order to help all Lawrence students succeed.

Tricia Masenthin, Parent and member of District Equity Advisory Council

I first knew Melissa as the parent of a preschooler and a teacher. Now, I welcome her leadership on the school board. She brings both the personal and professional experience to education. I appreciate her bold and compassionate style of advocating for racial equality.

Linda Watts, former school social worker

I am so grateful that Melissa Johnson loves and is dedicated to continually improving the community via education and her appointed position as the school board's newest member. I believe she could make great gains for the students in terms of closing the gaps between student needs and preparing them for further education, especially those who are marginalized, like black and of color children, low-income students, students with varying abilities, and more. Melissa has a number of experiences that have shaped her into being a critical asset for the school board, and I can only support her for the 4 year seat.

Lain Littlejohn

I am thrilled that Melissa Johnson is running for a position on the school board! I trust Melissa and feel confident that she will have my children's best interests at heart while caring about the entire community's children. Melissa is a wonderful parent, educator and community member. She continues to have my support and she has my vote!

Andrea Cozadd

Over the ten years that I have known Melissa Johnson, I have been inspired by her passion for working with young people, her discipline and work ethic, and the compassion and enthusiasm that she has for others. Melissa has displayed great thoughtfulness on a range of issues before the school board, particularly how to enhance the district's ongoing work to ensure equitable and inclusive learning opportunities for all students. She has my full support.

Sarah Crawford-Parker

I support Melissa Johnson because she has been endorsed by trusted community leaders who are invested in bettering Lawrence for the most vulnerable among us. She is strong, driven, and kind. As a woman of color, she brings an experience and perspective to the board that will be needed for real progress to be made on equal representation and diversity in our schools. Thank you!

Jackie Carroll

Without a doubt, Melissa is one of the most smart, authentic, and motivated women I know. For many years I have had the opportunity to see first-hand how her optimistic and confident nature rubs off on those around her. Melissa has dedicated herself to caring for, and nurturing others through teaching and through her work with the Sister City program in Lawrence. Perhaps most inspiring though is her ability to tackle the difficult topics such as race and equity within the school system. This capacity to see any issue from many different angles is what sets Melissa apart and makes me extra excited to vote for her!

Erica Boos

Melissa is one of my favorite people. She exudes enthusiasm, warmth and joy and elevates the spirits of all who share her space. Wish there were more teachers like her!

Sandra Webb-Malik

Melissa has the skills, intelligence, and insight to make a real difference for our students. Her perspective as a person of color informs her experiences as a teacher, parent, employee, and patron of the Lawrence Public Schools. She is a perfect fit for the needs of the board at this time.

John Bode, Teacher, New York Elementary

Girls Rock Lawrence proudly endorses Melissa Johnson for Lawrence School Board. We would like to echo many of the voices in the community that are demanding diversity within our school board. Melissa is qualified to fulfill this role. She is passionate about teaching and is motivated to empower youth. She is a devoted mother of three, and she is a social justice advocate. Melissa has shown her passion for building community and we have seen her leadership, creativity, and enthusiasm first hand at camp. This year, Melissa joined GRL camp as a band mentor and volunteer. Melissa represents the type of leadership promoted by GRL guidelines and we believe in her ability to promote the values and principles that align with our organization. We encourage members of our community to show support for Melissa in her campaign. We are rooting for you, Melissa!



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Melissa Johnson for School Board
PO Box 442416
Lawrence KS 66044

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