We learned yesterday of the passing of Betty Wold Johnson, parent of alumni, trustee emerita, and generous, unalloyed supporter and advocate of Princeton Day School. She was 99 years old.
Over the course of 60 years, Mrs. Johnson helped shape the trajectory of the School. She first joined the School's ranks as the parent of three alumni: Woody '62, Libet '68, and Christopher '77; and as step-mother to Rebecca Bushnell '70, who now serves as the School's Board Chair. She went on to underwrite transformational efforts of program and faculty professional development; preserve the integrity of the School's campus through her partnership in the Coventry Farms Project; steward its journey as a trustee and trustee emerita; and, in the last decade, embrace two of its signature, PreK-12 curricular initiatives: Health and Wellness, and STEAM, the latter of which is named in her honor. Her keen eye and boundless enthusiasm inspired members of the community for which she cared so deeply. Her disciplined, common-sense approach to both the business and art of leading a school benefitted her trustee colleagues and every Head of School. Hers was a voice to heed, as her attention to detail and broad, informed perspective yielded deep, rich opportunities for the School. In ways too countless to number now, Betty Wold Johnson stands with a select company whose commitment to the School sustained it and allowed it to flourish. Her loss to our community is as immense as is the influence she brought to bear upon it.
"With each successive conversation with Betty during the last dozen years, I came to understand more completely the vital role and responsibility of our school in the larger community," said Head of School Paul Stellato. "Her commitment to its students was entire, and while she entertained any number of proposals from heads of school, her decisions always turned on one thing: the quality of student experience. Two years ago, we invited her to tour the Wellemeyer STEAM Center. Sharing our vision of the program while an engineering class went on around us, it became quickly apparent that our opinion—my opinion—mattered little compared to those of the students in her midst. She lingered with them through the entire class period, pressed them for answers and opinions, and encouraged them to invest themselves in the educational opportunities the School had given them. Students won that day with Betty. In truth, students always won the day with her."
The Princeton Day School community shares its condolences with Mrs. Johnson's family. As it plans its tributes to Mrs. Johnson, it is fortunate to have captured a moment in this decades-long partnership in the fall edition of the Journal.
Betty Wold Johnson, with Head of School Paul Stellato and Board Chair Rebecca Bushnell '70, Betty's step-daughter, at Behr House, September 20, 2019.