Dimond Welcomes New Principal

Tina Johnson-Harris is Dimond High School’s new principal for the 2014-2015 school year.

“Anything that I’ve ever put my mind to I’ve been able to do,” Johnson-Harris said.

“My favorite thing [about Dimond] is the spirit that the students have. It seems like people are happy here, so I like that.

“[The school is] very strong, and I knew that in the spring because I came and visited a couple of times. I think there is a strong staff that has a sense of family,” Johnson-Harris said.

She said she does not plan to make many changes.

“Changes usually come about because there are issues,” she said.

Dimond has a faculty forum, and Johnson-Harris said she wants to use it “if there are things that need to be improved, site based.

“Of course, there is always school improvement and every year we have to do an action plan and those are just things that we kind of tweak and that create change within the classroom.

“But as far as systematic change, right now, I don’t see anything that really needs to be changed,” Johnson-Harris said.

“And, the teachers and the students usually let you know when there is something that is not working right. So, that’s what I have always learned as an administrator, you let that kind of drive it.”

Johnson-Harris said the hardest thing about coming to a new school is “learning the names and faces, putting that all together, but it’s coming together very quickly.

“Of course, a new schedule, because I came from West where we had modified block. Basically all of my administrative career has been in a school that has had a blocking schedule.

“From a teacher’s perspective, because I was a teacher first, I liked the blocking schedule.

“I was a social studies teacher, so it was good so that I could cover a lot of information in 80 minutes when we had the blocking period and on those days when we had all those classes and it was only 55 minutes I could do snippet introductions, give a reading and then I knew the next time we came that I could delve into it more.”

Johnson-Harris also acknowledged that “For math teachers and maybe music teachers [a not blocking schedule] is a little bit better because it is consistent and you see the kids every day.”

Johnson-Harris said that the some of the strengths that she brings to Dimond are that she is easygoing, fun and she thinks “the kids like to see that you care about what they are involved in.”

She said she also brings the strengths of “finding resolutions, not that there is a problem, but that if I can foresee it, that I kind of get ahead of it.”

Johnson-Harris’ parents moved to Alaska in 1970 and she grew up in Alaska. Her father was in the military while living in Alaska, but soon retired.

“I spent some time at Anchorage Christian School,” Johnson-Harris said. “And then I went to Baxter.”

She also went to Wendler, and she graduated from Bartlett.

Johnson-Harris’ favorite thing about high school was being involved in sports.

“I played basketball, and I ran track.

“Academically, I was okay, I mean obviously I graduated, right?” she said.

“But just like a lot of students, you find your way after that. I was a great college student because I was focused and I stayed here and went to UAA,” Johnson-Harris said.

After graduating from UAA in 1991 with a Political Science degree, Johnson-Harris worked at Nordstrom and Eddie Bauer before getting picked up as a Special Education Teachers Assistant in 1994.

The principal at the school where Johnson-Harris was working suggested she become a teacher. She said she “hadn’t thought about that because I really wanted to go to law school. That is just kind of what I had envisioned, but sometimes we fall into things that we didn’t know we were good at.”

Within two years of the principal suggesting she become a teacher, Johnson-Harris had a Masters of Arts in Teaching in Social Studies. She didn’t think she would get a job right away, but she was hired at West High School in the fall of 1998.

After Johnson-Harris taught for three years, another principal said to her, “Have you thought about administration?” Johnson-Harris then took the classes to become an administrator.

Johnson-Harris is married with two daughters.

“They are a part of my life, and I am very fortunate to have a supportive family, very fortunate,” she said.