Meet the 2021 PASSCo Chair Coleen Johnson, Chief Administrator (Human Resources) at the Sacramento County Office of Education
What led you to your current role at the Sacramento county office of education or to education in general?
Early on in my life, I felt “called” to be a teacher. (You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher! I have a whiteboard in my office and sometimes I just have to get up and write on it.) As I progressed in my teaching career, I desired to grow professionally and to have the opportunity to impact students, staff, and families in a greater way. I served as a Vice Principal and a Principal before venturing into the Human Resources realm at a district level. During my time at the district level, I felt drawn to county office work. I tend to approach human resources work in a very humanistic way; our work is based on relationships, and having positive relationships with those I work with, lead, and serve, makes all the difference to me. I have been blessed to now have served in two different County Offices over the last ten years (El Dorado and now Sacramento). I find county office work to be meaningful because of our role with our districts, our advocacy, the types of programs we provide, and the opportunity to serve both locally and statewide.
What does your day to day look like as the chair of the PASSCo Steering committee and the Chief Administrator (Human Resources) for the Sacramento county office of education?
I look forward to coming to work each day and every day is different. In fact, regardless of what is on my calendar, my day could change at a moment’s notice! I try to start my day with exercise (I’m a runner) and personal devotions before heading into the office. I work closely with my program colleagues here at SCOE (Sacramento County Office of Education) and am typically collaborating with them – most currently, in regard to reopening programs, testing, vaccines, staffing proposals, employee relations related topics, and SCOE wide initiatives. Regular meetings include team “huddles” (Zoom) with my personnel team, cabinet meetings, monthly Personnel Commission meetings, bimonthly County Board meetings, and lately, weekly CCSESA and Schools Insurance Authority (our JPA, Joint Powers Authority) meetings regarding COVID related updates. I meet weekly with our bargaining unit leaders (along with several of our cabinet members) and see such a benefit in having a good working relationship with them. In terms of bargaining, I serve on the SCOE bargaining team. I am in communication with our Capital Service region colleagues and PASSCo colleagues via email and sometimes phone calls on a regular basis. I will occasionally be involved in supporting one of our small districts with a Superintendent search. During non-COVID times, I enjoyed making site visits to our programs with my Cabinet teammates and hope that can resume again soon!
What are some of the goals or objectives you would like to achieve within PASSCo this year?
I would like to see PASSCo really support legislative advocacy and equity related topics. We are so lucky to have strong leadership in CCSESA in terms of legislative advocacy and am grateful for that support. We still suffer from a critical shortage of educators in specialized positions (school nurses, Speech and Language Pathologists, special education teaching positions, and substitutes, etc.). It is important that while we address these shortages, we recruit and retain a diverse workforce and that barriers to doing so are removed.
What is a bright spot / exemplary program in your Steering Committee that would be of interest to other educators?
The professional development provided by PASSCo to its members is a true bright spot. We have been able to bring in high quality presenters on a variety of timely topics. This benefits our members and helps us to support our districts with expertise. The other bright spot is found within our regional groups. While this varies somewhat from region to region, generally, our regional groups support each other and offer professional development to districts within their region (such as the joint hosting of a Labor Management Initiative convening in April by Sacramento COE and El Dorado COE).
What does being a PASSCo member mean to you?
Two things come to mind: 1. PASSCo is a supportive, collegial community that equips our county office colleagues to better support our organizations and our districts; and 2. PASSCo provides opportunities to lead at a local, regional, and state level. This is a way to give back to the profession that has enriched my career.