The Riverside Elementary School District 96 school board accepted the resignation of Dan Johnson, Hauser Junior High School’s assistant principal and longtime band director credited with revitalizing the school’s music program, at their Feb. 20 meeting.

In a separate interview, Johnson said he would be leaving the district after this school year to become the principal of the Iroquois Community School, a year-round, K-8 public school in Des Plaines.

At the meeting, Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson praised Johnson, who officially became assistant principal at Hauser last summer after serving in that capacity unofficially for three years, for his administrative contributions to the district. He said Johnson always challenged the district’s leadership team to do more for their students.

“As you continue with your career, one of the things that you ask administratively is, ‘What legacy are you leaving for kids?” Lamberson told Johnson. “All I can tell you is, you’re leaving a tremendous legacy here.”

For all the work that Johnson has done behind the scenes in the district, however, he’s better known for the contributions he’s made to Hauser’s music program. When he was first hired in 1994, he said, there were about 90 students in the entire program. Today, there are 330 students in the band and orchestra alone.

“When Dan started here, participation was fairly bleak,” board member Giles McCarthy said. “But as my kids were going through the district, participation swelled to something in the 90-percentile. I’d just like to thank Dan for making joining the band something that was cool for kids to do.”

Board members weren’t the only ones at the meeting who praised Johnson’s work in the district. After the announcement of his resignation was made, one parent in the audience called out the suggestion that the board should simply reject his letter of resignation.

For his part, Johnson said he had learned a lot from his 13 years in the district, and that it was a hard decision to leave a community that had always been so supportive of his work.

“I feel blessed to have been here,” he said. “I’ve gotten more from the kids and the community than I’ve given them.”