The moment when the “light bulb” comes on and you know a child has “gotten” the lesson you are teaching him/her. These are the moments that Anna Johnson loves about being a teacher.
“You can’t buy that excitement in a student’s eyes,” explains Johnson. “You just have to be a part of the magic!”
Johnson is a gifted teacher at Bethlehem Elementary School in Locust Grove, where she also teaches accelerated math. Years ago, while working as a bank teller, someone came in to make a deposit. The person placed an “X” on the back of the check where their signature should go. Johnson learned then that this is how a person who can’t write their name signs a check. She also witnessed bank customers who could not count money. These experiences led Johnson to become a teacher.
“One year, I was teaching a group of students how to count money,” recalls Johnson. “I remember a little girl saying ‘Oh, I get it,’ and then she turned to help her friend understand the lesson” – a “light bulb” moment.
Johnson shares another favorite story about a lesson on pollution in the ocean and its impact on sea turtles. She had a scientist at the turtle rehabilitation on Jekyll Island speak to her students. “When the students made the connection to how what they did here in Henry County affected the sea turtles, it was amazing! Again, it was that ‘light bulb’ moment!”
Johnson’s passion for teaching earned her the great honor of being named Bethlehem Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for the 2022-2023 school year. It’s a humbling recognition as she believes so many of her fellow teachers are truly amazing, dedicated and deserving of the honor as well.
Johnson’s family members and friends have played a role in her success as a teacher. She credits her parents with encouraging her to go to college. Her mother-in-law for being an awesome example of a great teacher, and her father-in-law who has shared stories of his own school experiences. Her husband and three children for the countless tasks and inspiring ideas they have helped her with over the years. Her teaching mentors and friends for their support and help with projects.
For Johnson, it all comes back to being a part of that magic moment when the “light bulb” comes on and a child “gets it.”
By Michelle Nunnally