Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson to join US Xpress leadership team
Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Bryan Johnson will assume a leadership role at the trucking and logistics company US Xpress in August, moving from a career entirely devoted to education to a publicly traded company with ambitious growth targets.
“I’m really excited and intrigued to be pushed and challenged – not that I haven’t been,” Johnson said. “You know I was challenged and pushed in my direction, but I was challenged in a different way in an industry that is truly one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and with an organization that has some of the boldest goals in the industry. “
Johnson will be US Xpress’s chief of staff, reporting directly to CEO Eric Fuller and tackling strategic multi-service initiatives in the newly created role, Fuller said.
One of the company’s goals is to double revenues over the next four years, double community engagement, expand training and development, and grow its digitally managed Variant fleet. US Xpress has 10,000 employees and reported 2020 operating income of $ 43.5 million.
“At US Xpress, we’ve been through a big transition, and that obviously takes bandwidth and talented people to get it up and running,” Fuller said. “When I heard that Bryan might be interested in entering the private sector, it immediately intrigued me.”
Johnson, 38, a Nashville native and first-time school principal, was hired in July 2017, after the Hamilton County Education Council approved his contract 5-4. Releasing now, Johnson becomes the first superintendent to leave on his own terms since the merger of the Chattanooga and Hamilton County school systems in 1997.
“The truth is, most superintendents have a four to six year tenure when it comes to their ability to keep the job going, and generally speaking, that’s because it’s honestly complex work,” Johnson said. . “You’re the CEO of an organization, and on top of that you have that public element that makes it really complex, and on top of that layer of you dealing with people’s children.”
After several years of improving student performance, great strides in accessing technology and developing talent in all roles, the school system is well positioned to make this transition, he said.
About Bryan Johnson
Bryan Johnson holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Austin Peay State University, a Masters in Special Education and Teaching from Belmont University, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca University. Nazarene.
2008-2017: Johnson held positions from teacher and coach to director of studies for the Clarksville Montgomery County school system.
2017: Johnson became Hamilton County Schools Superintendent after a 5-4 vote from the school board.
2021: Johnson announced he would step down as Hamilton County Schools Director in August.
“A strong strategic plan is in place, the board is aligned and the district is on an upward trajectory,” he said. “If the organization wasn’t in a place where it could be passed on in a very thoughtful way, I wouldn’t be walking away.”
His departure from the high-level position at the helm of the school system will also leave more room for his wife, Candy Johnson, to pursue her career ambitions, Johnson said. Candy Johnson is President of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga and previously worked as Director of Education Policy for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“One of the challenges she faced in the first couple of years in particular was that as the employers thought about it, they said, ‘Well your husband is the superintendent, and they very rarely have the opportunity to walk away in a positive light, ”Johnson said. . “I think this provides a unique opportunity for her to make an impact.”
The move also forges a deeper connection to the community for Bryan and Candy Johnson, which is a win for Chattanooga, Fuller said. His conversations with Candy ultimately led him to speak with Bryan about the possibility of a role at US Xpress, Fuller said.
“It’s really important that when we have very talented individuals like the two Johnsons, we do everything we can to keep them in the community,” he said.
Connecting business and industry to the school system has been a key focus of Johnson’s tenure with the school system, and it will also be a part of his role at US Xpress, he said.
“As the industry transforms and becomes more technology-based, you really have to make sure that the employees in the organization are as prepared as possible and then make sure that the future workforce coming is prepared, ”Johnson said. “I’m really excited to see him on both sides and hopefully support him on both sides.”
While Johnson’s educational career may not seem logical for this role, his experience leading 6,000 employees and managing a $ 500 million budget at the helm of a system of over 44,000 students gives him a wealth of operational and leadership experience, Fuller said.
“It really makes a lot of sense and gives us a new way of looking at it, a new approach, and I think Dr Johnson will bring new ideas that we probably hadn’t thought of before,” Fuller said.
Johnson’s entire career had been spent in education. He spent nine years in successively more responsible roles in the school system in Clarksville-Montgomery County, Tennessee, and was the academic director of the system before coming to Chattanooga. But her undergraduate degree was in business, Johnson said.
About US Xpress
US Xpress was founded in Chattanooga in 1986 by Max Fuller and Patrick Quinn with a fleet of 48 trucks. Today, the company has more than 10,000 employees, 7,000 trucks and 15,500 trailers. Eric Fuller has been Managing Director since 2017 and Chairman since 2018. In 2018, he led the company when it went public on the New York Stock Exchange.
“I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and always thought I would go down a business route, whether in a business or as a business owner,” he said. “But I was really driven by education, and education will always be a passion.”
Johnson, who earns more than $ 250,000 a year and is among the highest-paid superintendents in the state, said the money was not the reason for the decision to change professional course.
“I was paid very well. The remuneration was not a motivation for me to leave public education,” he said. “It’s really about understanding when is the right time to pass the leadership torch and making sure we pass it on in the right way.”
Johnson becomes the first black member of US Xpress’s leadership team, which is a happy development for the company’s publicly focused focus on diversity, but hasn’t been a deciding factor, Fuller said .
“He’s an incredibly talented person with a ton of experience, with a lot of knowledge, so we’re delighted to have him on the team,” Fuller said. “The fact that he brings a certain diversity of thought and experience is just a bonus for us.”
Johnson said he spoke with members of the school board about who should run the school system when looking for a new superintendent, but he’s ultimately not the person making that call.
“I don’t choose the leader who follows me, and I don’t want that responsibility – it’s the responsibility of the school board,” he said. “They will do a great job, but they are definitely clear on my thoughts.”
Contact Mary Fortune at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.
Hamilton County School Superintendents
Jesse Register: 1996-2006
Register led the newly amalgamated Chattanooga and Hamilton County school systems. Register was removed from his post a year before his contract expired and ran the Metro Nashville school system from 2009 to 2015.
Jim’s Scales: 2006-2011
Scales was ousted in a 6-to-3 school board vote after resisting pressure from county commissioners seeking to place their friends in certain jobs. He retired to his home state of Texas.
Rick Smith: 2011-2016
Smith retired under pressure for his handling of the fallout after a first-year Ooltewah high school student was raped by three of his basketball teammates and the release of a state report detailing the lack progress in the poorest performing schools in the district. He has spent over 30 years in the school system.
Kirk Kelly: 2016-2017
Kelly, a 35-year veteran of the school system, served as interim superintendent while searching for a replacement for Smith. Kelly was one of five finalist superintendents to be interviewed for the job.
Bryan Johnson: 2017-2021
Johnson, a first-time superintendent, was hired in July 2017, after the education board approved his contract 5-4. After four years in that role, during which he was named Tennessee’s 2021 Superintendent of the Year, Johnson took a leadership position with US Xpress.