Carrie Zelin Johnson believes strongly in the mission and vision of Way to Grow and for very special reasons. Not only is she a former Family Educator, but she also received direct support as a Way to Grow family earlier in life. In fact, 3 of her children are Way to Grow graduates!
“By the time I was 26 years old I was responsible for 5 children,” said Johnson. “Our blended family presented a significant challenge as we negotiated child rearing beliefs, addressed developmental delays & learning difficulties, and navigated the resources to move out of poverty. We attended events and activities that Way to Grow offered and connected with a Family Educator who knew health and education resources that were just right for our family’s needs.”
Carrie is now the Director of Early Education at Way to Grow, a position she has held since June of last year. In that role, she supports our Family Educators’ home visiting practices and leads Way to Grow’s preschool programs.
Carrie came to Way to Grow with over 20 years of early childhood and school age experience ranging from parenthood, skills therapy and home visiting, volunteer commitments and consultant work. She has special interest in autism, ADHD, and FASD, and in developing effective interventions for people to overcome the challenges in their lives. She’s a relentless advocate for issues regarding school readiness, special needs, parent involvement, and community building.
“Here at Way to Grow, we have had 80% or more of our preschool age children meet or exceed the benchmark each of the last three years,” reports Johnson. “That’s with our uniquely trained Family Educators supporting our parents to do the work. Our kids are smart and capable – they have shown us that they can do it! Our parents can do it! Our schools can do it! We just have to work together and realize that we can do more when we are IN-community with one another instead of working or living in isolation. The achievement gap is not the child’s or the parent’s problem; it’s a community problem and therefore a community solution like Way to Grow is needed.”
Carrie holds a Master’s of Education degree in Educational Leadership with a minor in Educational Psychology and has plans to obtain a doctorate degree. She and her husband, Dunyell, live in North Minneapolis, and are busy raising 4 children.
“I gained many years of personal and professional experiences, growth and development from my ties with Way to Grow,” said Johnson. “It feels good to be in a place where I can continue to support the teaching and learning of staff, parents and their children as they grow and develop. I truly appreciate the education and support I received from Way to Grow; it led me to choose a career in education, gain critical skills necessary to raising my children, impact my community and, above all, develop a passion for families and children that I never knew I had!”