Lake Country Faces: Johnson dedicates self to PL Schools
The Pequot Lakes graduate is a member of the school board and can often be seen - and heard - at Patriot events.
Curt Johnson has a long history with Pequot Lakes.
He moved to the area as an eighth-grader after first attending school in Kimball when his father became the high school principal, and eventually graduated from Pequot Lakes. After living in the metro area for a while as a young adult, he and his family moved back.
That led to him serving on the Pequot Lakes School Board for the past 16 years, as well as handling the announcing at various sporting events. When he isn’t involved with either of those, he can often be found in the stands at various sporting events or at the schools in some other capacity.
“I always tell people if I'm ever having a bad day in my day job or just during the day, that goes away the minute I get over to that school,” Johnson said. “It doesn't matter if I go over at 3:30 or 4 p.m. to watch a ballgame, or if I go in on Sunday afternoon for open gym … I just absolutely love going in there, with the energy that's in the building.”
Part of his reasoning for joining the Pequot Lakes school board 16 years ago is a desire to shape the lives of students,
“Everybody has a dream, and we have to make sure we can help that student to formulate that dream and realize it,” he said.
The positives do not begin and end with the student body for Johnson, however. He has also been quoted at school board meetings saying the district has the best administration and staff in the Western Hemisphere.
“It is just an absolute joy and to see our staff work,” Johnson said. “I don't know anybody who's there because it's a secure paycheck and a nice pension … They are so passionate.”
In his 16 years on the board, Johnson has seen plenty of changes – both in terms of board members and board policies – but feels the greatest change has been the board’s enhanced focus on economic diversity.
“There is a greater focus on diversity, which we all need to learn about,” he said. “When I became a board member, I was stunned to learn about the families and the folks in the area. The ‘haves’ really have what they have. I mean, they are very well-heeled, and the ‘have nots’ really have not.
“I want to be very careful. I want to make sure that we don't pull down the high-fliers to make the ones that aren't high-fliers feel better. We want to bring everybody up – a rising tide lifts all ships, if you will. That is the sort of thing I want to focus on, and I think we do an excellent job with that. We try to get the most out of these kids and help them really excel.”
He feels that the school district is “the most valuable asset” any community can have, which is why he wants to be involved in any way possible – from serving on the board to announcing at sporting events when needed, to simply sitting in the front row to cheer on the Patriots.
“People get a sense of trust, I think, in that capacity,” he said. “We need to have a school where they feel comfortable in the fact that we're still a very close-knit community. We're big now, but we still want to keep that small-town feel where everybody kind of knows who everybody is.”
Moving forward, Johnson hopes to have a hand in helping the continually growing district handle that growth properly, including improving parking on both campuses.
“We have to do something,” he said. “That's priority number one. Also as Pequot Lakes grows, we want to make sure to get the kids who want to ride their bikes to school – like when I was in Kimball – and we've got to make sure that's a good environment for them too.”
For now, he plans to keep working for those he wants to help most.
“It's all about the kids,” Johnson said. That's the most important thing. There isn't a board member on that board that doesn't have that same feeling, and we are lucky to have that. It’s just a great school district.”