The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The Johnson Administration: 100 days in The Office

Dr. Johnson has begun his tenure at LM, putting an early emphasis on fostering relationships over major policy changes. Read about how some members of the LM community responded to the differences in social and academic life.


As students filed through the doors on the first day of school, Dr. Michael Johnson, sporting a cropped LM haircut, greeted students as they entered the school. The year began with not only new staff faces, but minor changes to both LM social and academic life. 

Many in the school often are hesitant regarding the policy changes of any new authority figure, yet Johnson has not instituted any major changes. “I think there’s a perception that there have been major policy changes, but there really haven’t been,” finds Johnson. Of the changes in the school, many of these are reinforcement of policies that are listed in the handbook. Instead of changing the handbook, Johnson has reinstituted many policies from prior to the pandemic. Increased attendance checks and more stringent monitoring of students being let out of classes has not constituted policy change, but different administration of those policies has seemed to many like a new rule, considering only one grade at LM has experienced the school prior to the pandemic.

Outside of the rule changes, much of Dr. Johnson’s first 100 days have been spent getting acquainted with both teachers and the student body. However, some students have expressed frustration at not being able to form a relationship with the new principal. Johnson does believe that he is beginning to foster relationships with many students and spends time during Lunch and Learn along with other student activities trying to connect with any student that he sees in the halls. Even with the desire to create relationships with students, Johnson mentions, “I don’t expect every student to have a great [relationship] with me personally. My desire is that every student in the building has an adult they feel connected to.” 

 In the early days of reaching out to the student body, Johnson’s experiences have both confirmed and enhanced his view of LM. When reflecting on the nature of LM, Johnson has found the school culture to be both healthy and impressive. Johnson has found the support for sports teams, attendance of school events, and other school event participation as a “testament to the school culture.” However, Johnson notes a distinction between a school’s culture and its climate. While school culture refers to the values of the school, the attitudes and sentiments on a daily basis are considered part of the school climate. When reflecting on his interactions with the student body to date, Johnson calls the student body “lively with a lot of great energy.” While he holds overwhelmingly positive opinions of LM students, he did note that improvements can be made among individuals with regards to the school climate. “There are things about the climate we would want to improve on and reflect on and grow on,” yet Dr. Johnson goes on to mention these improvements are not unique to LM, but necessary for any school. He continues to find communication as key to an improved school climate. Expanding on improvement, Dr. Johnson finds, “when people are able to sit and talk through the challenges they are having, there is typically more misunderstanding and more alignment.”

Johnson’s opening days have been hallmarked by comments on his Harriton origins, a story students and Johnson himself have repeatedly reflected upon. Even with Johnson’s distinction of his support for LM, elements of Harriton’s school culture are evident. Outside of the installation of the ACES expectations, Dr. Johnson has begun a new chant that calls out, “AC-ES NA-TION!” The prolonged chant, with a drop in tone in the middle, bears a striking similarity in enunciation to Harriton’s “RA-MS PRIDE!”, the chant of the school at many sports events. Yet, Dr. Johnson finds that the “Aces Nation” chant is just a way for him to provide for a call and response, rather than to copy Harriton’s culture.  

With new changes, relationships, and prior allegiances, Johnson’s first 100 days have been met with both community receptiveness to Dr. Johnson as a person and hesitation to the changes, regardless of big or small. The time to move forward with policies that will work to establish Dr. Johnson’s reputation will develop in the coming years, yet the initial goals of restaffing the building with teachers and providing for a safe opening have been fulfilled. Dr. Johnson has just begun as LM’s principal, and will move forward to cement his standing in the office and the halls. 

The columns, polls, and quotes are indicative of a select group of teachers and students, not the entire school. Furthermore, all polls and quotes do not represent the opinions of The Merionite. 

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