Michele Johnson had been in the workforce for several years before the inspiration to become a teacher hit her. Always an avid reader, as Johnson’s daughter developed academically, she found herself inspired to pursue a career in education.
“Watching my daughter start school and grow into a reader and a thinker was ultimately the catalyst that motivated me to start college and pursue teaching,” Johnson said. “And I love to read so of course I would choose to be an English teacher.”
As a student at Coastal Carolina, the idealistic Johnson once told an advisor she wanted to be a high school English teacher so she could inspire kids to appreciate literature. The reality was a little different – she spent seven years as a middle school language arts teacher in North Carolina before taking a job at Myrtle Beach High School in 2014 as a Reading Interventionist – but it has been no less rewarding.
In 2007, her first year as a teacher, Johnson was teaching kids to read, as opposed to growing their appreciation for the classics.
“It was a struggle, but I did learn how to teach them how to read,” she said. “My students scored huge reading gains that year, and I have never looked back, but I am certain they taught me a lot more than I taught them.”
Fourteen years later, Johnson is still inspiring students to read – hoping to help them find that perfect book – and for her efforts, she was voted Rockin’ Jump’s Teacher of the Month in May.
“My principal and assistant principal sent an email whose subject line said, ‘Please do not open until I get to your classroom :)’ and they soon appeared in my room,” Johnson said of winning the award. “The email had a video message from Rockin’ Jump presenting me the award. I was surprised and very flattered … My class thought it was cool that the principal and assistant principal popped in with this award at the end of the day, and when they learned they were awarded free passes, they were obviously excited.”
Away from the classroom, Johnson, who has lived in seven states and visited six countries as an adult, enjoys reading, traveling and being outside, but her thoughts are never far from her students.
“The thing I find most rewarding about teaching is being able to work with young people every day and being there to share in that moment when they come to an understanding about something,” she said. “Especially if it is something they have been struggling to figure out.”
That commitment is why Johnson is Rockin’ Jump’s Teacher of the Month.