"This is what the Lord wanted me to do," she said. "I think kindergarten
is the most important grade because you're setting their standards and
giving them a love of school and learning."
In the process, her students have grown to love her as well. One of her
favorite stories is of 5-year-old Daniel Shammas, a student of hers this
year who walked up to her and announced, "I am going to marry you. Then I
will have a beautiful wife."
Daniel's love for his teacher is not surprising to anyone who has had
Johnson as a teacher.
Stephanie Smith is a freshman at OCC. Her memory of kindergarten is dim
after 12 years, but she does remember how it felt to be in Johnson's
"I don't remember too much, but she was always very warm and caring,"
Smith said. "She loved all of her students so much, we all felt like a
family. She was very dedicated to her teaching."
That dedication has yet to wain. At 71, Johnson is retiring but will not
stop working. Her plans for retirement are to begin working as a
consultant, evaluating children's perceptual motor development.
She wants to help students become better, happier learners by helping
them correct problems with their motor skills. For instance, she said,
many students have problems with their visual perception, which affects
their ability to read and learn.
"There are not many people who do [the consulting] and there is a great
need," Johnson said.
Johnson will be working with Linda Howe, who evaluates children with
learning difficulties in Chino. Johnson will begin evaluating children at
Prince of Peace and plans to eventually take on other cases in Orange
"I'm excited, but a little bit nervous," she said. "But I don't want to
run out of time."
Although she will still be around Prince of Peace, she will be missed as
a kindergarten teacher.
"She's a good teacher because she likes to teach us," said 6-year-old
Christian Meldrum. "She's a good teacher because we love her."
There will be a celebration of Johnson's career May 21 at Prince of Peace
Church, 2987 Mesa Drive, following the 10 a.m. church service.
Today is Day of the Teacher in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
Teachers throughout the district will be honored in various ways by their
students, administration and school communities.