Henry L. Johnson Inaugurates Walter Ridley Distinguished Lecture Series

January 31, 2006 — The inaugural lecture in the Walter Ridley Distinguished Lecture Series will feature Henry L. Johnson, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education for the U.S. Department of Education.

Johnson's lecture, "Preparing America's Future," will be presented at 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, in the Rotunda Dome Room. A reception will follow.

Johnson became assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education last year. He directs, coordinates and recommends policy for programs, including “No Child Left Behind,” designed to assist state and local education agencies with: fostering and improving the achievement of elementary and secondary school students; helping ensure equal access to services leading to such improvement for all children, particularly children who are economically disadvantaged; and providing financial assistance to local education agencies whose local revenues are affected by federal activities.

Prior to joining the Department, Johnson was the state superintendent of education for the state of Mississippi. He also served as the associate state superintendent of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for both the Johnston County Schools in N.C., and the Pleasantville School System in N.J. He has over 30 years of experience as a professional educator.

The lectures series, sponsored by the Curry School of Education, Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity and the Walter Ridley Scholarship Fund, honors Walter N. Ridley, the first African-American student to receive a degree from the University of Virginia. Ridley graduated in 1953 with a doctorate in education and had a distinguished career in higher education administration. See the Web site www.virginia.edu/oaaa/ridley.html for more of Ridley’s life story.