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Working for that ‘Aha’ moment

BY CARA McCLOUD
STAR CORRESPONDENT
During such unforeseen circumstances, communities and the people within have had to reevaluate their normal protocol and routines adapting to COVID-19. 
This pandemic has affected us all personally and professionally especially our students during such important times of preparation for life later. 
Learning has been highly hindered with never-before-seen school schedules that are constantly changing and lessons concentrated to hit major key points and needs of what grade the student currently occupies. 
Education is now being delivered online by video or programs that the majority have never had to use like home-schooled children with parents assisting however they can. 
If our teachers already faced hurdles they now have the high jump to deal with.  With so much complication and unknown surrounding us, teachers deserve recognition. 
One teacher who has touched one parent’s heart to be nominated is Happy Valley Elementary’s own teacher of 28 years and a superstar shining through in Donna Johnson.
Johnson has been at Happy Valley her whole life first as a student and then as a teacher being a Warrior through and through. 
She received her Bachelor’s of Elementary Education at ETSU and her Master’s from Tusculum University.  Her experience spans from fourth grade to also teaching first and now second grade being her home. 
She realized she wanted to be a teacher during her first year of college, and when it came to deciding what age group the choice was easy, Johnson always enjoyed the younger age group of children. 
She loves seeing that “Aha” moment when students are beginning to dive into harder curriculum and seeing that the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place giving her fulfillment. 
Inspiration constantly surrounded her during her own education beginning with teachers who showed love for their students along with patience all the way up to when it came time to decide what future path one may take she found encouragement and motivation. 
As Ms. Greer proudly proclaimed that Happy Valley is a family and while it has definitely been punctuated with challenges this year, it has also allowed both parents and teachers to work more closely than before.  Mrs. Johnson has the same sentiment of a family-like workforce due to everyone helping each other and sharing new ideas. 
Her teaching goes beyond books and worksheets to include other teaching avenues that would appeal to the generation now and also including cooperative learning and visualization to social cues and responsibilities students need outside the books and lessons. 
They learn how to get along with friends using their manners, laugh, and learn that it is OK to make mistakes.
COVID-19 has made her realize virtual learning does not replace a live teacher because she believes beneficial learning comes from kids that are engaged, energetic yet focused due to spending their day in a classroom setting. 
For all kids she hopes the parents spend time with them period but also reading, teaching them to listen, and respect those around them while being an example and teaching accountability but most importantly — Love Them!
Donna Johnson was nominated by a parent who has not only experienced the unexpected loss of multiple family members and cancer affecting the grandmother to also finding out that they themselves had cancer. 
Being the main educational component at home they realized they had not been able to provide the attention needed always for their child who was falling behind and constantly felt guilt and worry that their student would be pushed to the side for the easier taught to where their learning would fall behind more but also be affected socially feeling separated from their counterparts at such a tender age where confidences need to be built. 
They have always felt they could have an open dialogue with Mrs. Johnson, and she has been very supportive with both the parents and the child. 
There is much more to the job definition of a teacher than an outsider would think, and the parents wholeheartedly believe their child is receiving the best tutelage fit for them considering the setbacks endured.
All in all, Donna Johnson’s commitment shows in her tenure of 28 years and in how she handles each new year’s students and challenges. 
She exhibits passion beyond the basic learning, and the compassion she displays earned her this nomination in a time of uncertainty while cementing her as an asset undeniably to Happy Valley Elementary.