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Geraldine Johnson

Geraldine Johnson is a distinguished retired educator, community activist, and volunteer. She was born on April 11, 1919, in Bridgeport Connecticut – the third in a family of seven children. She grew up in the East End of the city where she attended McKinley, Harding, and Bridgeport Normal Schools, which she later went on to lead as Superintendent of Schools. Johnson received her B.A. degree in teacher education at New Haven Teachers College (now SCSU) in 1940 and her M.A. degree at New York University in 1959. Following graduate school, she went on to earn her sixth-year professional certificate at the University of Bridgeport in 1969.

In 1961, Johnson became a principal after achieving the number one score on Bridgeport’s civil service examination. She served in many other educational capacities as well and taught first, seventh, and eighth grade, as well as a music class. She also worked as a Director of Title I Programs in Bridgeport, assisting disadvantaged pupils with achievement in school programs. In 1969, she served as the Assistant Superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools, the second largest school system in Connecticut. She went on to become Superintendent of Schools in 1976, notably working through the 19-day teachers’ strike over salary contracts in 1978. She became Interim Superintendent of Schools in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1986, after her retirement in 1981.

Governor Ella Grasso listed Johnson as one of Connecticut’s 100 Most Distinguished Women in 1976. The Girl Scouts also named her a “Woman of Distinction.” She was bestowed Honorary Doctorate Degrees from Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, and the University of Bridgeport. To honor her work as a superintendent and her commitment to education, in 2008 a new elementary school was dedicated to her and named the Geraldine W. Johnson School.

Geraldine Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2010.

Johnson passed away on November 28, 2015.

Accession Number

A2010.004

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/29/2010

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Harding High School

Southern Connecticut State University

New York University

University of Bridgeport

McKinley Elementary School

Sacred Heart University

Fairfield University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Geraldine

Birth City, State, Country

Bridgeport

HM ID

JOH36

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Connecticut

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Hurry Up!

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Connecticut

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/11/1919

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bridgeport

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Steak (Filet Mignon)

Death Date

11/28/2015

Short Description

Teacher Geraldine Johnson (1919 - 2015 ) was the first African American woman to serve as superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools.

Employment

Bridgeport Board of Education

Fairfield Board of Education

Greater Bridgeport Adolescent Pregnancy Program

Connecticut Symphony

Connecticut Parole Board

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Geraldine Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson remembers her mother's career as a beautician

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her mother's organizational activities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Geraldine Johnson remembers her father's storytelling

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Geraldine Johnson describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson describes the East End of Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson talks about the integration of the public school faculty in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson describes her experiences in a majority-white school district

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson describes her childhood activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson recalls a discriminatory teacher at Warren Harding High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson remembers her social life

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Geraldine Johnson remembers her first cello recital

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her enrollment at the Bridgeport Normal School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her mentor at the Bridgeport Normal School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson remembers graduating from the New Haven State Teachers College in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson remembers joining the faculty of the Prospect School in Bridgeport, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson reflects upon the changing attitudes towards educators

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson describes her transition to school administration

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her start as a school principal

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson remembers developing programs for low-income students in the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her nomination as superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Geraldine Johnson remembers meeting with the Bridgeport Board of Education

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her marriages

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson recalls her challenges as the superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson remembers a teachers' strike in the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her tenure as superintendent of the Bridgeport Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson recalls serving as the interim superintendent of the Fairfield Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her retirement

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Geraldine Johnson describes her international travels

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Geraldine Johnson talks about the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her membership in The Links

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Geraldine Johnson describes her organization activities

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Geraldine Johnson reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Geraldine Johnson describes her daughter

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Geraldine Johnson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Geraldine Johnson talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Geraldine Johnson narrates her photographs