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Siwanoy Principal Farid Johnson named 2024 New York State Elementary Principal of the Year

Farid Johnson, Siwanoy Elementary School principal. (Pelham Examiner file photo)

Siwanoy Elementary School Principal Farid Johnson was selected as the 2024 New York State Elementary Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS).

“The award is given to a SAANYS member who is committed to excellence, has programs designed to meet the academic and social needs of all students and has firm ties to parents and the community,” said SAANYS in a news release on Thursday. “One of Mr. Johnson’s most significant accomplishments as principal has been the Siwanoy CultureFEST. FEST is for Food, Entertainment, Stories, and Traditions.”

The news release went on to state:

Mr. Johnson says, “The idea of CultureFEST was born out of the ideology of bringing everyone together to cultivate the idea that we are all different, and that is a beautiful thing!” He adds that “cultural awareness, appreciation and recognition are extremely important” to him as an educator and a father.

The Spring Festival is growing and brings together many individuals and families. Mr. Johnson explains that “Siwanoy did not have a cultural celebration to this magnitude before I became principal here, and if I ever leave, it is now a tradition that will always take place each spring. The impact on the community has been positive and overwhelmingly powerful.” He adds that “Understanding how culture affects us as a society and school community is embedded in everything I do as an educator.”

Best practices for Mr. Johnson include “visibility” and “building relationships to increase flexible thinking.” He explains that a principal “should be seen throughout the school on a daily basis. Most of the time should be spent in classrooms. Spending time in classrooms with students helps you to build strong and positive relationships with the students and teachers alike.”

Mr. Johnson further explains that flexible thinking is critical for a school principal, who should “be able to live in the gray area. My job is to prepare students for the real world, and the real world is not black and white. There are nuances and many experiences that will need to be handled in a flexible manner. I believe building strong and positive relationships will help navigate the gray area when leading a school.”

Madeleine Mercer, Siwanoy PTA president-elect and a parent, said in the release, “Principal Johnson is an extremely creative, collaborative and innovative principal. He is always willing to work with teachers, students and parents to bring in exciting opportunities for students and engage the entire school community.”

Dr. Alice Bowman, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said, “Farid effectively engages with students and parents alike, building and nurturing strong relationships between home and school. His innovative mindset has led to the development of pertinent discussion topics for parents, offering insights into how they can support their children at home. Notably, Farid is known for his candidness and honesty, qualities highly regarded in our team. He prioritizes the well-being of students, holding staff to high standards while providing unwavering support.”

Johnson became principal of Siwanoy in September 2020. He graduated from Hastings High School, received his bachelor of science and master of science from Manhattanville College and a master of science from Bank Street College. He is currently pursuing a doctorate of education at St. John Fisher.

Johnson and fellow 2024 honorees will be recognized at the association’s annual awards celebration on May 3.


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    Annie FreemanMar 22, 2024 at 7:00 pm

    This is such great news. Congratulations