Faces of 501: Nancy Johnson
Nancy Johnson is a long-term substitute teacher at Randolph Elementary School. Her work focuses on the needs of children who require tutoring or behavioral assistance. After retiring from her career in non-profit work, Johnson decided to dedicate her time to substitute teaching, which has become her passion.
"I was bored being retired, but I wanted my summers off to play. So, let's see; bored during the winter, want my summers off...that would be substitute teaching! And, I am looking really at going and getting my degree in Special Education, because I really love this room, I love the kids that are in it and the challenge of it. No day is the same. I'm continually learning. I think, if nothing else, I'm learning patience more and more. If one thing doesn't work, something else might."
Johnson's passion for students doesn't end in her own classroom. She believes that the positivity within Randolph Elementary has a major impact on the school's environment and student's learning experience.
"I have a Masters degree in journalism and public relations, worked in the non-profit world and retired. I hated it (being retired). I love 501. I love the support we get from the children's parents; the support we get from the paras that are just incredible, sometimes holding the school together. The teachers are just phenomenal. They are always willing to work with me on lesson plans or a different way of doing things. And, of course, the administration."
"My favorite part of the job is walking into the school every morning. The positivity in this school is unbelievable, and it starts with Dr. Gray. He's very easy to talk to, very easy to work with. Every single teacher and every single para is positive. They're here to do a job and they are here to do it in love, and comfort, and understanding. I am so lucky to work at this school."
When asked about the impact she has on students, Johnson was hesitant to take too much personal credit for the work that she has done as a substitute teacher.
"I would think I would be ego-centric if I used the word 'I,' because it's not just 'I.' We have a village here that works with them (the children). I pray every day that I am making a positive impact on these children. I pray every day that I will have the patience and the love to surround them with so that they realize they are loved when they walk into my classroom. We work a lot with love; holding them, loving them, rocking them, continually telling them much they are loved and always telling them that they are loved when they leave the classroom. And that, so far, has worked."
"The advice I would give to substitutes is to always be asking questions. Don't come in acting like you know everything. Ask for the support you need. You have to walk in with humility, be open to lots of suggestions and leave your ego at the door."
"When we have a child that goes all day, who has bumps, bumps, bumps in the road, and then goes a day, or two or three with no bumps at all, the elation that we feel is unbelievable, including the parents and all those who work with the child. We continually tweak the plan to see if it will work better. And one plan may not work for another child. The satisfaction is to know that sometimes we can have a child go all day without acting out, and then we try to duplicate that the next day. That's the thrill you get out of it. I really love it. I think God meant for me to be here."