Former Minneapolis Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson battles stage 5 kidney failure – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Bernadeia Johnson has spent most of her 62 years educating. The former Superintendent of Minneapolis Schools has been educated over the past three years on the issues of life and the people that matter most.

In all, Johnson spent 15 years in the Minneapolis public school system, five as a district superintendent, working with teachers.

“We didn’t always agree on everything, you know. We had some challenges, but I think ultimately they recognized that while I was a tough leader, I was also a compassionate leader. I led with empathy and I led with love,” Johnson said.

But it was the students who grabbed his heart, and his concern for what is now for years is the same.

“Children cannot live with violence. It creates trauma in families and makes it very difficult for students to come to school and learn,” Johnson said.

She has seen a lot since arriving in Minneapolis with her husband, also in the field of education. But in 2019, he died of prostate cancer.

“We were married for 42 years, college sweethearts,” she said. “He was such a loving man and everyone loved him.”

Shortly after, she got some bad news.

“I was diagnosed with kidney disease. And I’m stage 5,” she said.

Both of Johnson’s kidneys are failing. You only need a healthy person to survive, and that’s what she hopes from a donor.

“I had to sit down (when I heard),” Marcia Watt said. “It hurts, it really hurts because he’s a good person.”

Watt is one of many teachers mentored by Johnson who is now rallying behind their former boss, a mentor who admits she could have taken better care of herself while pursuing her career.

“If you have high blood pressure and you don’t necessarily eat right and don’t exercise, and you have diabetes, these problems are due to poor eating habits, excessive alcohol and high stress,” Johnson said.

This led to the advice she now imparts, especially to female leaders.

“Everyone I talk to who is in a high-stress situation, especially female leaders, I say to them, ‘When was the last time you went to the doctor? What did you listen to?’ »

Her goals have changed to continue living a life that includes her grandchildren.

“I think what scares me is not being here to see my young grandsons graduate from high school and college and become productive citizens,” she said.

So now she’s waiting for what she hopes to be a kidney donor, comforted because all those students and teachers whose lives she touched are now her angels, and they hope, pray and comfort – because they believe in her .

“If she was sitting here, I would tell her I love her,” Watt said. “I would tell him to keep his faith, that God still does miracles.”

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