The Nickerson USD 309 School Board gave its approval to let Johnson, a lieutenant colonel and battalion commander in the U.S. Army Reserve, attend the prestigious National Defense University in Washington, D.C. The training will take 11 months, meaning Johnson will miss the 2019-2020 school year. It also means she’ll be gone at a time the district is working on passing a $29.9 million bond issue.
Attending the school could mean a big advancement for Johnson. It could even put her in the selection pool to become a general. Completion of the training will already mean a promotion to colonel.
But leaving the district is not going to be easy for Johnson. “It’s exciting but very torn leaving the community for a year and that’s very hard on everyone,” Johnson said. Johnson says she will maintain two households and will still be in contact with the district on a continuous basis. Johnson’s work as a battalion commander makes her confident that she can take on both roles even away from the district. “My battalion that I was in charge of was 12th out of 12 battalions, in last place. When I ended my command, it was first out of 12 battalions and so I feel confident that I was able to accomplish all of that, that I can go to school and still be as engaged.” Johnson’s current command is the 336 Combat Sustainment Support Battalion out of Arizona.
At the college, Johnson will learn the latest in battlefield and warfare tatics. “It’s where diplomats go to learn about military strategy and military resourcing at the very strategic level,” Johnson said. “It’s mostly a school for active duty soldiers. Very few, I’m going to guess less than 1 percent (reserves), get to attend an active duty school.”
The school board approved the leave for Johnson, who will leave for Washington, D.C., in July and return in June of 2020.