By RENEE FITE
Teachers are often inspired to choose their profession because of their own early experiences as students in the classroom. Later, they want to encourage other students and pass on the positive learning lessons.
Central Academy teacher Marketta Johnson was encouraged by her eighth-grade English teacher because the class was difficult, and she learned a lot.
“She taught in a way that allowed and forced creative thinking. It opened my eyes to a new way of looking at things, and it changed my life,” said Johnson.
Johnson is a 1996 graduate of McAlester High School, and she earned Bachelor of Arts in Education, in English education, from Northeastern State University in 2001.
He first teaching job was at Indianola, a small school a few miles north of McAlester. She taught junior high and high school English and reading, eighth-grade science and history, and then moved on to Muskogee’s Rougher Alternative Academy, teaching high school English and humanities.
Johnson was recently named Central Academy 2013 Teacher of the Year. She also teaches at the Cherokee County Regimented Education Academy, educates home-bound students, and works as a morning and afternoon bus monitor.
“As Teacher of the Year for Central, the faculty and staff gave me a gift with movies, gift cards and a gnome reading a book. I also received a plaque,” she said, “The students made signs and congratulated me throughout the day. I am honored to be chosen as Central Academy’s Teacher of the Year. It is nice to be recognized by my peers.”
Johnson became a teacher in hopes she could help shape students into well-rounded, well-read adults, who can form their own opinions about things and feel confident expressing those opinions.
“I don’t want my students to be afraid or embarrassed to be themselves,” she said. “If you truly believe in something, learn the facts and stand up for your belief. Think things through and be cautious. Never let anyone deceive you into thinking you are less than you are.”
To help students embrace the subject at hand, she tries to find selections that are especially interesting to read.
“If they don’t enjoy the material, they will tune out. I don’t want that, so I try to ensure that it is interesting and has some relevance to life today,” Johnson said.
The classroom day begins meeting in the computer lab and with morning announcements.
“I enjoy the subject of English, because I feel it not only allows for a creative means of expression, but it also provides the structure for everyday communication,” she said.
She enjoys her subject, but also cares about the students at Central.
“Working at an alternative school is a challenge; it can take an emotional toll on you. In this case, however, the rewards outweigh the hardships,” she said.
Seeing a student who has struggled through life and school, for whatever reason, is difficult.
“I believe working so very hard to succeed and achieve makes their successes all the sweeter. When they succeed, I feel that I succeed as well,” Johnson said.
Hearing the students’ opinions about life and literature is another appeal of teaching for Johnson.
“They sometimes vary greatly from my own opinions,” she said, “Sometimes they can change my way of thinking about a subject. That is my favorite part of teaching. I love it when a student is able to make me look at something in a new way.”
Johnson also appreciates her co-workers.
“I think we all get along well and have the same goals in mind. We all want our students achieve more than they dreamed possible,” she said.
A good teacher acts as a role model, said Johnson.
“I believe a good teacher is someone – anyone – who wants and strives for the best effort from someone else,” she said.
She advises new teachers to just dive in and go for their goals.
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