By Angie Mayes
Mt. Juliet News Correspondent
Wilson County Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson recently accepted a job with the Tennessee Department of Education.
Johnson, who has worked for the county since 2016, will become the director of communications for the department.
“My last day with the district [was] Friday,” she said. “We’ve already begun interviewing candidates, and we hope to have a replacement hired my mid-June at the latest. I will begin my role as the communications director for the Tennessee Department of Education on May 20.”
She said initially, she was apprehensive about leaving the district.
“I wasn’t particularly looking to make a move, but after having numerous conversations with the new leadership at TDOE and talking with my fellow communications colleagues throughout the state, I realized that it was just a natural fit,” Johnson said. “Not only is this something that’s needed at the state level, but it’s a role that I’m uniquely equipped for thanks to my previous background and experience.”
Prior to her work with Wilson County Schools, Johnson worked at WSMV News Channel 5 as a reporter and anchor, as the communications director for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and as communications director for the Tennessee Department of Correction.
Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said, “Jennifer Johnson will be a loss for WCS in many ways. She set the stage for more efficient and effective communication for Wilson County Schools by creating a multimedia platform of communication between the district and our many constituents, parents, students and the general public.
“She created a public awareness on behalf of the district by informing those who needed to know and for those who wanted to know but ready to counter those who were quick to criticize on what they didn’t know or understand.
“I give a great deal of credit to [her] for her work and guidance with administrators and teachers by teaching them how to tell their stories and bringing to light all the great things taking place in their schools. Jennifer was always looking for the good stories and not allowing us to dwell on the negative. We will certainly miss one of our biggest champions.”
State education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said, “Jennifer is coming on board at a time when the leadership of our communications division is more important than ever. The Department’s priority and commitment to authentic engagement and improved transparency with stakeholders will require a seasoned communications professional to lead and execute the strategy, not just for the day-to-day work of the Department of Education but for many new pieces of work we have ahead of us. We’re excited about what her experience brings to the department.”
Johnson’s deputy director of communications will be Lebanon resident Dakota Weatherford, who previously worked as an administrative assistant for Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. Weatherford is a Mt. Juliet High School graduate.