English teacher Ms. Johnson has experienced different cultures and basked in the spotlight before settling into her high school teaching career.
When Johnson was younger, she found a passion for Japanese culture that eventually led her to take multiple trips overseas to Japan while she was in high school. In one of her trips to Japan, she had a homestay with a Japanese family in a small fishing village that was known for being the village where they had the fish that was sent into space.
While being able to speak and read Japanese, Johnson also has a long history with theater that began when she was young. Her father had loved theater his whole life, and he was majoring in theater while he was in college.
“My recorded first play that I went to was one of his theater performances when I was just six months old,” Johnson said.
Having learned the love of theater from her father, Johnson went to drama camps starting in elementary school and continued learning in different ways later in her life. As her love for acting grew, Johnson considered taking on the challenges that performing theater professionally entails. She majored in theater as well as Japanese studies and English while at Valparaiso University, and it was then that she discovered her passion for the technical side of theater.
“I went and majored in theater for my graduate degree and my undergraduate degree, and I really began to fall in love with other aspects of theater. I absolutely adore stage management. I would be very happy to be a stage manager again. I think it’s so rewarding to work backstage and run the show from the shadows,” Johnson said.
She was hired by Valparaiso University to work on plays there, and she worked from the ground up on a few productions as an intern at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. Victory Gardens Theater is a playwright’s theater that takes new plays and performs them there. She also taught acting and theater to elementary and middle school students. Johnson still teaches at the Chicago Street Theater in Valparaiso.
While in college, she discovered that she loved the literary analysis portion of theater, which led her into English education. Both of Johnson’s parents were high school English teachers, so she had a history of working with and around the subject. She first thought that she was going to teach English at a college level before eventually deciding on teaching English at a high school level.
Currently, Johnson teaches both English to sophomores as well as AP Language and Composition to juniors. Although she had jumped around in professions before, she believes that she finally found the job to stick with.
“I have a great deal of passion, especially for English and literature, which I think that many English teachers do, and I find a great deal of value in writing,” Johnson said.
She emphasized that a person’s personal experiences are limited in their lifetime and that reading is a great way to learn life lessons that people would otherwise not have the experience to learn. Johnson’s love for art and literature extended into the musical world.
While in quarantine, she found comfort in music, and she wanted to share that comfort with her students. To do that, Johnson began to sing her favorite songs to her students in a video. While she assumed that her music would die out once in-person learning resumed, her students asked her to keep performing music for them, and it quickly became a tradition. Her passion for her students is not limited to just the classroom.
After school on Tuesdays and Thursdays in either room J.24 or J.18, Johnson can be found hosting the Dungeons and Dragons Club that she founded with other English teacher, Mr. Martin.
Throughout her few years teaching at LaPorte High School, Johnson has already made a large impact on the lives of her students.