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Teachers are Heroes: Courtenay Johnson devotes all to students

Published Monday, June 18, 2018

Mrs. Courtenay Johnson

Mrs. Courtenay Johnson (BCSD photo)

A classroom should be a place where all students feel like they belong. If you speak to teachers and administrators at Sedgefield Middle School in Goose Creek, they will tell you that’s the environment 7th-grade social studies teacher Mrs. Courtenay Johnson provides.

For Mrs. Johnson, teaching is not only about the learning process. It’s about being an important person in a child’s life and providing for that child as appropriate.

She does what she can to be the hero children sometimes need in their lives, and she does it selflessly. It’s a calling she answered as a junior in high school, when her social studies teacher inspired her to become an educator.

“She cares for the students in our school like they are her own,” said Sedgefield Middle School administrator Rebecca Davis. “She will do whatever she can to make sure that both their personal and academic needs are met.  She is the teacher that always has snacks in her room in case students come in hungry.  If a student needs clothing or shoes, she will take care of it.  If a student needs additional assistance in any of their classes, she will provide it.”

Mrs. Johnson doesn’t work for recognition, but she receives it. She was selected as the 2016-17 Teacher of the Year at her school, mainly for her philosophy that to teach a child, you also have to care for that child.

She views the bonds built with students as the most rewarding part of her job as an educator, and her proudest moments are times when she is celebrating student accomplishments.

“I am the proudest when a student, who has moved on to 8th grade, brings me a copy of their report card, when a student invites me to attend a sporting or extra-curricular event or when a student comes into the classroom excited to tell me something that has happened in their lives,” she said.

Mrs. Johnson is an educator who realizes learning continues throughout all stages of life, even for teachers. She views teaching as a “team sport,” is always learning and often inspired by colleagues. She recently received a master’s degree in school administration and supervision from the University of South Carolina. She believes teachers should continue professional development as the world continues to change and learning evolves.

The focus on professional development is among the things Mrs. Johnson said she loves about teaching in Berkeley County.

“There are always new opportunities to learn and grow,” she said. “I would say that my style is constantly evolving.  I embrace new ideas and technology in the classroom and am always willing to try something new.”

As she dedicates herself to improving her abilities as a teacher, she maintains high but realistic expectations for her students.

“I strive to always put forth my best effort, because I believe that is what my students deserve from me,” she said. “I genuinely care about each of my students as individuals and know that they will be more successful if we work together to achieve their goals. I am reflective, because I am always looking for ways to improve my craft. I reflect upon individual lessons, assessment data and student interactions and try to determine how I could improve in the future.”       

Mrs. Davis can speak to what you see when you step into Mrs. Johnson’s classroom. Students are engaged in learning. They want to meet her expectations as they realize how much she is willing to devote to them.

“She provides a variety of activities to help students master the content.  She is great at incorporating technology into her lessons, but she does not rely on it daily.  Students love her class,” Mrs. Davis said. 

Brian Troutman