Cheryl Johnson, 1st Grade Teacher, at Helen Baller Elementary in Camas, Washington
Nominated by Alexandria Ashcraft (classroom volunteer)
I believe that Cheryl deserves to be the Educator of the Week because she is an awesome teacher. She went back to school after having three children to be able to teach children. I am an aspiring teacher and she has allowed me to volunteer with her and she has already taught me a lot! Cheryl is just so wonderful because she is constantly spending extra hours before and after school to get things in order for her students. She buys extra things for her classroom when she sees fit. She gives her students chances to have fun parties when they do well. She is helping me the most because she is teaching me loads about how to help students. I come in to volunteer about once a week and she finds places for me to help students and give them the extra help they need sometimes. She also took the time out of her day to be a reference for me and help me get jobs.
Congrats, Cheryl, from all of us at K103! Get to know Cheryl Johnson:
What inspired you to become an educator?
I spent about a decade volunteering in my own children's schools (from pre-school through middle school) doing whatever was needed to support my children's teachers. Some days I was giving a spelling test, making copies or even leading high-level or low-level learners in reading groups – whatever the case, I loved it! I enjoyed being surrounded by such amazing and wonderful educators that were doing fantastic things for all children so much that before I knew it I was at school almost every day doing what I could do to help. What motivated me to become an educator was having the opportunity to be involved with such a diverse group of educators that worked to help each child become better learners. Six and a half years ago I was having lunch with a close friend I've known for 30 years, and she was the one who suggested I go into teaching considering I enjoyed working with students so much.
What do you like most about teaching?
I love getting to spend every day with small human beings who have so much to offer to our classroom, school and community. My first graders teach me just about as much about our world as I teach them! We can all learn from each other; many children have very insightful ways of thinking. I also love witnessing those "lightbulb moments" when my students have been struggling with a concept we have been studying for a while and they finally reach that moment of clarity and understanding.
What has changed most since you began my teaching career?
The little amount of sleep I now get… In all honesty I've only been teaching for five years so I have not seen as much change as many of my fellow educators have witnessed. I entered teaching just as the Common Core State Standards were being rolled out so I've been teaching with those as my guide since the beginning; I know that was a major shift recently for many educators. The push for technological integration is becoming a larger component of teaching at all grade levels and is becoming more commonplace in the classroom on a yearly basis.
What would you like my parents to know about your job?
It is truly an honor and a joy to be able to spend each day with your child, getting to know him/her. Please know teachers are human too and yes, while we do the best we can, we do make mistakes. The support and encouragement we get from parents at home is worth its weight in gold! Teaching is not an easy job – we log many hours outside the school day to put together the best learning experiences we can for each child under our wings. Years from now your child probably won't recall the details of particular lesson taught or an exact statement said, but he/she will recall how a teacher made him/her feel. Teaching is not just spoon-feeding children math equations or reading terminology, but to grow the whole child. I hope to inspire your son or daughter to value individual differences, be sensitive to those around them, to continue to grow their love of learning, and to go out and make a positive change in the world!
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
I would have to say one of my most favorite stories since I've been teaching involves a student and writing. This student was struggling with writing to the point of not wanting to begin writing at all because there were a few mental blocks standing in the way: "I don't know how to form the letters correctly”, and "I don't think I can finish it so I won't even begin." With a few supports and plenty of positive and encouraging words, this student overcame the fear of writing and was able to move beyond the "I can't." point to the "Those days that I was able to write a full sentence were the best days I've had at school." Comments like that from my students are enough motivation for me to continue to love my job and adore my students every day!