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Cleotha Johnigan Jr. Named Principal of the Year

Cleotha Johnigan Jr. Named Principal of the Year

Cleotha Johnigan Jr. is a 1990 graduate of Rosenwald High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a concentration in social studies and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Southern University in Baton Rouge. He also holds an Educational Specialist Degree in Leadership and Instruction from Northwestern State University and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education Administration at the American College of Education. Cleotha began teaching in Pointe Coupee Parish as a high school social studies teacher and head football coach at Pointe Coupee Central High. While pursuing his master’s degree he began assuming administrative roles at the school. He has served as  Dean of Students at Friendship Capitol Charter and taught Special Education in Iberville (East Iberville) and East Baton Rouge Parish (McKinley High) Schools. In January of 2016 Johnigan returned to Pointe Coupee Parish Schools and served as Assistant Principal at Rougon Elementary. In June 2019 he was selected to lead his alma mater, Rosenwald Elementary. Cleotha Johnigan Jr. is married to Latasha Lewis-Johnigan. and they share 8 children and 6 grandchildren. 

What have been some of my greatest challenges as a principal?

My greatest challenge as a principal has been to develop mechanisms within my school that addresses equity for my students. There are students in my school with varying levels of resources; I am challenged to find ways to offset the negative effects for those with minimal resources and create a more equitable educational setting where students are able to thrive socially and academically, despite their socio-economic status.

What have been some of your greatest rewards as a principal?

Because Rosenwald is home for me, I have been able to positively interact with parents and stakeholders who support our students and our schools’ mission. I believe the development of these relationships has helped contribute to the improvement of student behaviors and increasing levels of engagement during instruction.

What do you want to be remembered for as principal of Rosenwald Elementary?

When my tenure at Rosenwald is done, I would like to be remembered by staff members as an authentic leader that supported their needs, modeled great leadership, acted with integrity and built the capacity in each team member to become a leader on our campus. I would like to be remembered by our students as a principal that they believed genuinely cared about them as students and dedicated to providing the best educational experience for them. I would like to be remembered by parents as a leader who was fair, consistent, and provided them with opportunities to be active participants in their child’s education by being responsive to their calls and issues. I would finally like to be remembered by stakeholders as a leader who intentionally attempted to build relationships that would aid our school in becoming a beacon of hope for our community.

What advice do you have for aspiring administrators?

I would advise any new administrator to be authentic. Stay true to the reasons that made you choose to become an educator and allow that to guide your decisions. 

Who inspires you the most and why?

The person that inspired me the most would be my late mother Dianne M. Vining. My mother raised me to value education and never give up on my dreams. In everything that I was involved in, she was always there to support me and give an encouraging word. In both my personal life and professional life, leaving a legacy that would make my mother proud inspires me to be the best that I can be.