The Board of Education’s newest member, student representative Bradley Johnson, has been a politician since his freshman year at Berkeley High School.
“I just enjoy politics,” he said. “I enjoy the art of diplomacy, the art of talking to people ... and the ability you have to change things.”
Johnson, 17, served as president of the class of 2004 as a freshman and sophomore and helped write a new constitution for the student government.
“We had a very outdated, very old constitution,” he said. “We made it more formal, more clear, we hope, and we created two new student bodies.”
This year, as a junior, he served in one of those new bodies —the student senate.
School board Director Shirley Issel said Johnson’s work on the constitution bodes well for his time as a student representative
“That was just an extraordinary thing to do,” said Issel. “He told me how much he loved policy and government. He’s just fascinated by it. He wants to learn how to fly that airplane.”
The student representative does not have an official vote, but can advise the board and serve as a liaison to the students.
Johnson said he wants to get more involved in substantive policy discussions than his predecessors, and he’s got a couple of initial ideas. “I’m trying to create a system of constructive teacher review, where students can give feedback so teachers can continue to learn and grow,” he said.
Johnson also wants to improve communication between high school administration and students. The daily student bulletin, he said, is inadequate.
“It gets out too late, it’s unclear, kids don’t listen to it and teachers don’t read it [aloud],” he said.
Johnson follows Andy Turner, who joined the board in August 2002 and participated in his last board meeting Wednesday night, five days after graduating from Berkeley High. Turner, who led a mural project at the high school this spring, will attend the University of Pennsylvania next year. He said Johnson will do well in his new position.
“He’s got a long trail of successful programs behind him and a lot ahead of him,” Turner said. “So he’ll fill my shoes.”