Managing multiple positions

Johnson juggles high responsibilities in the community


Story by Joseph Lee, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Serving as Pittsburg’s mayor and Pittsburg High School’s Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) administrator, Jeremy Johnson lives a life involved throughout the local community.

Working as a JAG administrator, Johnson utilizes his tools as mayor to look for opportunities to engage high school students throughout the community. JAG is a course that assists students to overcome a wide range of barriers on the way to their success. These barriers can range from an unstable family background to a need for transportation.

“What I like so much about JAG and what it allows us to do is it embraces and acknowledges those limitations,” Johnson said. “In order to effectively help kids to be successful, you have to approach it differently.”

Johnson started his JAG position in 2016. Johnson was eager to work in the teaching field after having worked at the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHCSEK) formerly.

“An opportunity to get back into [teaching] and helping people and maybe have a greater impact than I was previously was is really exciting to me,” Johnson said.

Johnson guides his students through college and job applications, career-readiness, personal and professional growth, alongside other various curricula. Johnson’s primary goal is to make sure students are ready, with the tools they need, after graduation.

He considers internships, business opportunities and community service chances to be important for students.

“I’m not giving lectures every day. I’m not handing out worksheets. We don’t use a textbook,” Johnson said. “The approach is radically different because JAG acknowledges [student limitations]. In order to help these kids it means going about it a different way.”

Senior Aaliyah Kerr has received guidance from Johnson for two years. Through this course, Aaliyah has been to the state capital in Topeka to meet state senators. She has also attended a leadership conference, alongside partaking in other opportunities that might be hard to receive outside of this course. Kerr enjoys being in the classroom and achieves the goals she sets with the help of Johnson.

“Having him as a teacher is a great experience to have. I look up to him a lot. He’s just someone I can talk to and he helps me in a lot in many different situations,” Kerr said. “I feel like you can be more yourself [in the JAG classroom].”

Having him as a teacher is a great experience to have. I look up to him a lot. He’s just someone I can talk to and he helps me in a lot in many different situations.

— Aaliyah Kerr

Johnson proportions his time between his place as a teacher and his role as mayor. He was elected onto the city commission in April of 2015. Just recently elected as mayor for the year of 2018, Johnson acts as the spokesperson for the commission and Pittsburg. The final decision of every law, policy, ordinance and resolution is made within the city commission.

“I like Pittsburg, and I plan on staying here for a long time,” Johnson said. “I want to see it improved.”

In an effort to better the recent issues, the commission has recently tackled items on their agenda concerning fire-fighting services outside of city limits and a possible municipal electric authority to be created by the city.

Johnson’s position as mayor informs him of the many things going on throughout the city.

“[Being mayor] gives you a bird’s eye view of all the stuff going on in Pittsburg,” Johnson said.

Aside from his position as mayor and his place at the high school, Johnson is rooted in the local community. He is a member of Pittsburg Area Young Professionals, went through Pittsburg’s public schools for primary and secondary education and taught at Pittsburg State as an English instructor for several years.  

Johnson uses his background as a political activist and educator to deliver a positive message for his students.

“It’s kind of the standard student’s mindset to feel hopeless and shoved around by forces bigger than themselves,” Johnson said. “I’ve made it my mission to give them opportunities to experience the opposite of that. You can make a difference. You can change things. All you have to do is be willing to step up and say ‘I want to try and make this happen’. Often times it’s much easier than one might think.”