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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Johnson uses coaching experience while guiding District 50 schools
The Greenwood Index Journal had this to say about Clover native and former District Three Administrator Darrell Johnson:

By KEVIN FIORENZO/Index-Journal sports writer
Sunday, July 20, 2008 11:28 PM EDT
Greenwood School District 50 superintendent Darrell Johnson has worn many hats and owned many different positions throughout his career, but in the majority of his roles, guiding students has been the common thread.

Much of what guides the decisions Johnson makes in his current role, though, come from the lessons he learned coaching sports in his first few years out of college.

He's now in charge of administering to three high schools and middle schools and nine elementary schools, but Johnson started out as a language arts teacher and football, basketball and track coach at a junior high and high school at Clover from 1986 to 1988.

During those years, Johnson, who was also a three-sport athlete for Clover in baseball, basketball and football, developed skills he has carried over into the district office.

"As a coach you try to teach the importance of being a part of a team," Johnson said. "You also want to try to get students to strive to do their best each night.

"I've always felt that a coach is the same as a teacher. A lot of the skills that you apply to the football field you can apply to the classroom, as well."

While his work as a coach helped him reach his current position, Johnson said working as a superintendent outside of specifically sports has given him a better appreciation for the efforts of non-athletes.

"I guess as a coach I had a limited amount of players, and now I'm responsible for everyone," Johnson said. "I can see the non-athletes who are competing in sports and know they still have aspirations for success.

"There's many students that have a focus solely on academics and the arts, and that's so important to being a well-rounded individual."

Having grown up in Clover, a town that featured one stop light when he was a boy, one can see how Johnson would describe Greenwood as a much bigger town.

"Small towns are what I know," Johnson said. "Greenwood is big compared to where I came from."

Johnson excelled athletically at Clover and moved on to Winthrop, where he eventually got a degree in English. He later earned his master's degree in English and an Education Specialist degree in administration from Winthrop.

During school and once he earned his undergraduate degree, Johnson held a variety of different jobs. He spent time as a custodian at Clover Middle School, as a substitute teacher, a general assignment writer for the Rock Hill Herald and even as a Division I college basketball official, but Johnson didn't feel his personality fit those roles.

"I didn't feel like I was maximizing my potential because I was more of a people person," Johnson said. "I always reflected on how I could help and give back to others.

"I was more reactive and wanted to find a way to make a difference in the world."

After a few years at the junior high and high school in Clover, Johnson spent several years at Sunset Park Elementary School in Rock Hill as an assistant principal and then principal.

From there, he moved to the Rock Hill District 3 office, where he served as director of student services and as an assistant superintendent before eventually making it to Greenwood a little more than two years ago.

Through all the positions he's held, Johnson's goal has been to give the students he works with the best opportunities to excel.

"I believe in people, and I believe that given the right opportunity, everyone can be successful," Johnson said. "A student that does their best, that's all, as a coach or a teacher, that you can ask for."

That sort of compassion is something Johnson thinks can be the extra boost a student needs, whether it's in athletics or the classroom.

"When I was playing, if I knew that a coach cared about me, I would try a little bit harder," Johnson said. "It's the same in the classroom.

"If students believe that their teacher cares about them, they'll try a little bit more."

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