Cynthia Johnson, also known as ‘Mama J,’ to resign from Lawrence school district

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Post updated at 8:45 p.m. Thursday, June 20:

Cynthia Johnson, the executive director of inclusion, engagement, and belonging for Lawrence Public Schools, is resigning at the end of the month.

Johnson, known to students as “Mama J,” joined the district as interim Lawrence High School principal in 2019. She transitioned into a districtwide role in 2021 and has led work on the district’s diversity and equity initiatives.

“The past five years have been so fulfilling through all the ups, downs, and challenges,” Johnson said in a news release from the district on Thursday. “One of the highlights of my time in Lawrence Public Schools has been getting to know the students, staff, and families of Lawrence High School. I reminded our students each Friday, ‘You have the P.O.W.E.R. to be great,’ and ‘You are loved.'”

District administrators are evaluating the position and district needs as part of its budget planning process, according to the release.

“Dr. Johnson has made a positive impact on the lives of our scholars, amplifying their voice and working to provide representation, access, meaningful participation, and positive outcomes for every student,” Superintendent Anthony Lewis said in the release. “Her leadership in ensuring systems are in place to advance equity in education will continue to serve our school community for years to come.”

The release did not name a specific job Johnson will take next but said that “She plans to extend her work and research focusing on school connectedness and belongingness, the effective education of students living in poverty, school, family, and community partnerships; and disrupting and dismantling systems that perpetuate poor educational outcomes for marginalized, underserved, and underrepresented youth.”

Her resignation will be effective June 30, pending school board approval.

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