Dr. Kristopher Johnson has been working in education administration for nearly a decade with the goal of someday becoming a principal. That day has now come for Johnson.

Johnson announced recently that he is leaving Volcano Vista High School to be the principal at the Career and Technical Education High School in Rio Rancho.

“If you go into administration, your ultimate goal is to have your own campus,” Johnson said. “And to lead them and be the forefront of what you want that campus to accomplish. I’m super excited to be a part of this community.

Johnson has spent the past three years at VVHS but he lives in Rio Rancho and has two children enrolled in Rio Rancho Public Schools. Still, it was a difficult decision to leave Volcano Vista.

“This is kind of home for me,” Johnson said. “It’s a dream to have your own school, but the community, the staff, the students will always have a place in my heart. But you know, it’s just one of those things that sometimes you’ve got to move forward to move upwards. I made that decision, and I look forward to doing whatever’s best for the students in Rio Rancho Public Schools.”

The new CTE Center, expected to open in fall 2024 or early 2025, will include specialized technical instruction that can culminate in post-secondary degrees or certificates, apprenticeships or workforce-ready employment. The RRPS Board of Education unanimously approved the purchase of the 74,000-square-foot facility for the CTE Center that formerly housed Alliance Data last year.

“I’m super excited to fulfill a principal’s dream of opening a brand-new high school,” Johnson said. “I really love career technical education just because it gives students another opportunity beyond college. It doesn’t mean that they can’t go to college right now; it just means that they can move forward with a viable career pathway and then pursue college maybe after.”

In 2023, more than 40 students will be taking CTE classes at CNM and their four core classes at one of RRPS’ high schools.

Currently, the district’s CTE programs cover 17 career clusters:

  • Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
  • Architecture & Construction
  • Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications
  • Business, Management & Administration
  • Education & Training
  • Energy
  • Finance
  • Government & Public Administration
  • Health Science
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Human Services
  • Information Technology
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing, Sales & Service
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)
  • Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Within the above career clusters, RRPS offers more than 20 programs with plans to add more.

The district’s in-depth CTE programs teach students about soft skills, work ethic, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, safety and integrated technology, and provide an opportunity to earn industry-recognized certifications.

“The main thing is to have students not only leave with a high school diploma but also leave with a certificate or some kind of certification and one of those career pathways when they graduate,” Johnson said. “I want students to be able to go out into the market and be ready to produce whatever they’re going to produce. All students need a high school diploma but also need a viable career pathway.”