Principals Grylls, Johns Join District Leadership Team

Two veteran DMPS educators – Gregory Grylls and David Johns – will be joining the school district’s leadership team as directors in the Office of Schools. Their positions are part of the district’s on-going work to improve teaching and learning with better leadership and supervision to support school principals.

Grylls is currently the principal at Cowles Montessori School, the only public Montessori school in Iowa. He will become a Director of Schools for the district. In that role he will work with principals at several elementary schools to ensure the district’s educational vision and goals are being implemented and met. He replaces Michele Lettington, who is leaving DMPS for a position with the West Des Moines school district.

Johns, the principal at Meredith Middle School, one of the district’s International Baccalaureate schools, will become the K-12 IB Network Director of Schools at DMPS. This new position will work with principals at each of the district’s IB schools to meet the district’s educational vision and goals as well as the expectations of the International Baccalaureate program. The position is being funded, in part, by the Wallace Foundation, which began a relationship with DMPS in 2014 to support improving the effectiveness of principal supervisors as a component of a district-wide effort to raise the quality of teaching and learning in schools.

“One of the most unique educational offerings at DMPS for students and families are our IB World Schools,” said Dr. Thomas Ahart, superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. “David Johns will help ensure those schools are meeting the high standards of the International Baccalaureate program while at the same time fulfilling the goals and objectives we have as a district.”

“Both Gregory Grylls and David Johns have a record of success at DMPS as well as a deep understanding of our work to become the model for urban education, and I am glad that their experience will now support our entire district,” added Ahart.

Grylls joined DMPS in 2000, following a year teaching in Kenya. He was a teacher, literacy coach and dean at King Elementary School. He was also a dean at Carver Community School and a school improvement leader at Moulton and McCombs schools before becoming principal at Cowles in 2012. Grylls has also been active in the district’s exchange program with Kofu, Japan, working as an English teacher there in 2005 and serving as the coordinator of the district’s sister city program since 2011. He earned his BA from Central College and a Master of Education in Educational Administration from Iowa State University.

Johns joined DMPS in 2005, after teaching middle school in West Des Moines for five years. He was the Humanities and International Baccalaureate Coordinator for the district before going to Meredith Middle School, first as a school improvement leader and then becoming principal in 2014. Johns earned his BA from Brown University and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Drake University.