Student Nomination Story

In the summer of 2017, my life changed dramatically. My family moved from the city to a small, rural town in what is considered to be “Horse Country USA”, Pilot Point. I was naturally nervous starting at a new school in a small community where everyone already knew each other and I knew no one. In fact, I was one of the only new students in 6th grade that started on the first day of school. But thankfully, there was one teacher who went out of his way to make sure that every child felt welcomed and special. That teacher was Mr. Johnson, who taught both my 6th grade science and social studies classes! Mr. Johnson immediately welcomed me and made me feel at home. He always listened to us students and shared many life stories to inspire us to achieve greatness in our lives. Mr. Johnson also made learning fun and interactive! He made a little “kitchen” within his classroom that was stocked with cooking supplies for us to make treats such as little cakes while learning the science behind baking (even if it was through a microwave :) and not a stove). One day when I turned in a letter of absence that my mother had written, he made me feel so proud and special by showing the entire class how beautiful her cursive handwriting was and challenged everyone in class to learn how to write their names in cursive. He taped the letter on the door for everyone to see and to be inspired! He gave out special prizes for those that turned in their cursive work! Mr. Johnson was always spending his own money buying special prizes to reward those that worked hard on their projects. When Mr. Johnson wasn’t spending his own money on supplies for his classroom, he was discreetly giving students from struggling homes, money to spend at the book fair so they didn’t feel embarrassed or left out. When my mom found out about this she asked if she could sponsor any children that didn’t have a ticket. However, Mr. Johnson had already paid for all the students who couldn’t afford a ticket to go on our special 6th grade field trip to Medieval Times! Mr. Johnson didn’t just generously spend his own money on us, he also dedicated much of his time to community service. Mr. Johnson taught us how to give back to our community by organizing special trips for us students to play music and sing to the folks at our two local nursing homes that he regularly volunteered at. Mr. Johnson will also give his time and support by attending as many of his students’ sporting events that he can. In the beginning of the 6th grade school year, Mr. Johnson asked each student to write ourselves letters. He created a time capsule for each of us and told us that the purpose of it was so that we could eventually see how far we had come in our individual lives. He remained true to his promise of mailing our time capsules to us, as I received one of my 6th grade letters to myself in 8th grade. I recently, as a 9th grader, received a large stack of items that I had written to myself while I was his student! It is important to note, Mr. Johnson doesn’t just mail the letters we wrote to ourselves. He never forgets to send us birthday cards, graduation cards or post cards telling us how proud he is of our achievements! I know that even if I don’t receive a birthday card in the mail from anyone else, Mr. Johnson will never forget to. He doesn’t just send cards of encouragement or congratulations on graduation to just “his” students, he sends them to every student in our district as even my older and younger sisters have also received one from him! That’s over a thousand students! I guess it would come as no surprise that prior to teaching, Mr. Johnson spent his life’s career serving his country in the military before retiring. He also taught ESL classes overseas to students in South Korea. On Sunday (November 29th), it will be my 15th birthday. Even though I have not been his student for over 3 years, today I received flowers with a card that read “Enjoy your birthday week!” from Mr. Johnson! Mr. Johnson goes out of his way to make all of us students feel special and to cheer us on. No matter where a student comes from, he is there cheering us on and reminding us that we matter and are not forgotten! I would like to make sure that Mr. Johnson knows that he is greatly appreciated and his kindness and generosity is not forgotten by honoring him with a nomination for being one of the best teachers in the entire world! Please consider telling his story to inspire other teachers and people around the world to go beyond in giving back and serving others, especially during this challenging time. In ending, thank you Mr. Johnson for spreading kindness in this world and inspiring me to be a better person! Carpe diem!

Leila Norris

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.