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Pelham educator Farid Johnson named New York's elementary school Principal of the Year

Pelham educator named New York's elementary school Principal of the Year
Pelham educator named New York's elementary school Principal of the Year 02:00

PELHAM, N.Y. -- There are over 3,000 elementary schools in New York, but only one can say it's home to the Principal of the Year. 

Farid Johnson, who shot hoops with President Barack Obama and completed two master's degrees, said it's hard to beat being named Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State

"I love sports. I guess I would equate it to winning the Heisman," said Johnson, the principal at Siwanoy Elementary School in Pelham. 

He said the job is all about students' physical, emotional and intellectual wellbeing. 

"I think when you lead with a kids-first mentality the success comes because you're doing it for all the right reasons," said Johnson. "You see smiles, you see the growth in test scores, you see the growth in our reading and writing programs. It's growth all over the place. You see the growth in our community." 

Johnson, a Yonkers native, spent years teaching in the Bronx. He became principal at Siwanoy Elementary during the COVID pandemic and quickly won over the teaching staff. 

"We knew that we could go to Mr. Johnson with absolutely anything and he would give us 100% of his support. We just felt very cared for," said Suzanne Diano, a 3rd grade teacher. 

"There's nothing that I'll ask of my staff that I wouldn't do. When you see that, it's contagious and they're like, 'Wow, he has our back,'" said Johnson. 

Johnson said he wants students to remember, "I made them feel good about themselves, and that they can do whatever they put their minds to, if they work hard enough." 

Johnson is married and has three daughters. As if he's not busy enough, he's working on his doctorate degree in education. 

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