As CEO, Evelyn Johnson believes that school should be a place where every child is valued, respected, supported, and loved. Following her dream as an 8 year old to be a teacher, she entered the field of education after graduating from Boston University and serving as a Medical Service Corps officer in the U.S. Army for four years.
Her first teaching position was at Wilcox Middle School in Wilcox, Arizona. There she realized the need for leadership and advocacy to better support students with disabilities, their families, and the special education teachers who served them. This prompted her to earn her doctor of education degree at the University of Washington in 1999.
Her passion for applied research grew while studying with Dr. Joe Jenkins, Dr. Gene Edgar, and Dr. Cathy Taylor at the UW. Her research activities include synthesizing research on the effects of early childhood education for children living in poverty (for the Center for Disease Control’s Community Guide to Preventive Services); partnering with researchers at Qatar University to learn about Arabic literacy development and dyslexia and develop learning tools to support the growing population of Arabic speaking children in the Treasure Valley (through a Fulbright Fellowship awarded in 2015); partnering with Dr. Lisa Gabel of Lafayette College to research the genetic basis of dyslexia; and working with Dr. Jonathan Brendefur of Boise State University to develop effective elementary math diagnostic tools.
Pursuing her goal to improve special education service in public schools, she provided technical assistance to states on how to implement response to intervention systems through her role at the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities; co-authored Identification and Evaluation of Learning Disabilities: The School Team’s Guide to Student Success with Dr. Anne Clohessy (LPLC); published her work in a number of journals including, Exceptional Children, Journal of Learning Disabilities, School Psychology Review and Learning Disabilities Quarterly.
As the Center’s Research Director, Evelyn, along with the team at LPLC and the faculty at Boise State University will create professional development tools for special education teachers and create school-based models of The Pesky Way to support the self-regulation and reading skill development of students with learning and attention challenges. Together, they seek to develop an education system that creates a pathway to learning for everyone.