The Silvertip welcomes San Marcos Unified’s new superintendent Dr. Andy Johnsen

Sophia+Novelo+and+Dylan+Reece+in+an+interview+with+the+new+superintendent+Dr.+Andy+Johnsen.

Photo by Dana Voros

Sophia Novelo and Dylan Reece in an interview with the new superintendent Dr. Andy Johnsen.

Story by Dylan Reece and Sophia Novelo

  This year, the SMUSD board of directors elected Dr. Andy Johnsen as the new superintendent of the district. Previously serving as the Lakeside District superintendent since 2017, Dr. Johnsen hopes to continue to serve students, staff, and their families in San Marcos. 

   “I have always known that San Marcos is an amazing school district with incredible people and incredible students. When I saw that there was an opportunity to come here I was very excited to join an amazing team and to support the growth and development of our 20,000 kids as they get ready for college and career,” Dr. Johnsen said.

   For many years, Dr. Johnsen has sought to create a student-centric environment where everyone felt welcome and like they could succeed in their own unique ways. 

I think I’ve learned over time that there’s a lot of ways students can be successful, one of my big goals is that you guys spend 13 or so years in our system, and when you’re walking the stage at Mission Hills you got choices,”

— Dr. Andy Johnsen

 

   “I think I’ve learned over time that there’s a lot of ways students can be successful, one of my big goals is that you guys spend 13 or so years in our system, and when you’re walking the stage at Mission Hills you got choices; you are fully prepared to go to a four year, if you wanna go to four year college, two year college, trade school, take over the family business, join the military, start a business. Whatever it is you want to do, you are fully prepared for that and that can look different for all kinds of kids. There has to be some standard of instruction that we have to give to everybody, but then also ways for kids to explore their interests because success doesn’t look the same for every single kid,” Dr. Johnsen said. 

   As an education official, and a father to three, Johnsen strives to keep students safe as well as on campus, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising delta variant infections. 

   “Last year was rough, I think you guys would know it because you lived it. I have a son who was a senior last year so I watched through his eyes and I watched how hard it was for all of you guys week by week, month by month, going: ‘Am I gonna get to go to school?’ My number one goal is keep the schools open and keep the kids in class, and we still have to quarantine. That’s the health department, not the school district. Last year the rule was if you have a sniffle go home and we’ll see you in two weeks. This year, if you’re vaccinated and you’re feeling okay even if you were sitting next to someone who had COVID you can stay in school, we’re not gonna send kids home if we don’t need to,” Dr. Johnsen said.

   Johnsen’s 27 years in the education system has only solidified his belief that students are the foundation of the district.

   “My leadership philosophy is that students are number one. You are the whole reason we are here, if we don’t have students we don’t have jobs. I think of our school district as concentric circles and you guys are right in the middle, you guys are the most important thing that happens. Everything else is here to support what’s happening for you guys in your classrooms. Whether that’s food services or buses or payroll or a human resources department, the school district does not exist to have a human resources department, or a payroll department, the district exists to serve students and these pieces support that but you guys are right here in the middle,” Dr. Johnsen said.