Ruth Johnson, president of the Ray-Pec Board of Education, is the recipient of the 2019 Carter D. Ward Excellence in Advocacy Award presented by FutureBuilders, the education foundation of the Missouri School Boards' Association.
She was recognized on Sept. 28 during the 2019 MSBA Annual Conference at Lake of the Ozarks.
The award was established by FutureBuilders in honor of Dr. Carter Ward, who served as MSBA's Executive Director for more than 30 years until his retirement in 2014. His career epitomized effective advocacy for Missouri's public schools.
The award is designed to honor an individual school board member who exemplifies leadership skills in the area of public education advocacy.
Johnson has been an active member of the Ray-Pec Board of Education for eight years. She also serves as current Region 4 Representative to the MSBA Board of Directors. She has earned every certification available through MSBA, up to and including the Distinguished Certified Board Member designation, which requires professional development and continuing education beyond the state-required essential training for new board members.
During Johnson’s service, the Board has earned the MSBA Outstanding Board of Education Award in the areas of Physical and Environmental Resources; School Finance; Teaching, Learning, and Assessment; and Governance Leadership and Accountability. The Ray-Pec Board has also earned the MSBA Governance Team Award seven times during the eight years Johnson has served. In addition, the District has earned the Meritorious Budget Award from the ASBOI each of the last four years.
Johnson has been an active member of several planning initiatives at Ray-Pec. These include strategic planning, long-range facility planning, boundary revisions and district innovation. She is a regular volunteer for the Ray-Pec Public School Foundation programs that support student and staff members, as well as various Chamber and community benefit groups that work to support and strengthen families. She is also an active leader and volunteer in her church.
Five years ago, Johnson had a vision to create an area public school education advocacy group. She worked collaboratively with board members and superintendent from neighboring districts to form Cass County Kids First (CCKF). This group represents the interests of over 18,000 students in the 10 public school districts in Cass County. Each year, the group creates a list of legislative priorities that are endorsed by the Board of Education in each of the 10 districts. This collaborative has been useful in establishing productive dialogue with legislators on education topics. Johnson collaborated with Belton School Board President Jerry Miller to facilitate this effort.
Johnson has participated annually in the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City legislative events. For the past five years, she has participated in the MSBA Federal Relations Capitol Visit, in which a select group of local board members meets one-on-one with federal legislators and/or their staff to advocate for all students in our state. Johnson also served as a Regional Advocacy Chair with MSBA for three years. She has attended the MSBA Legislative Forum every year since 2013.