Melissa Johnson was just a first-grader when she decided what she wanted to be when she grew up.
It was her teacher that year who inspired her to become an educator. She wanted to be just like her, Johnson recalls.
“I remember her being warm and caring, and she really made learning fun,” says Johnson, who teaches second grade at Lawson Elementary in Johnston.
It seems she made the right decision following in her former teacher’s footsteps. Johnson has been teaching for 18 years, 15 of which have been at Lawson.
The years haven’t seemed to diminish her passion for her job.
“I love coming to work every day,” says Johnson, who also likes the fact that no two days are alike. “I feel like I really make a difference in lots of different ways.”
That includes teaching reading and writing to her young pupils, which is one of the things she enjoys about working with this age group.
“They grow so much in those areas at this age,” Johnson says.
Showing students how to take what they already know and applying those things to learn something new is another aspect of her job she likes.
Johnson’s passion for teaching also shows in her efforts to improve herself as an educator. In addition to a bachelor’s from Simpson College, she has a master’s in effective teaching from Drake University. She also earned certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in 2000. Certification is voluntary, and took about a school year to complete, Johnson says. She was recertified in 2010.
“It’s like putting your teaching under a microscope,” she explains of going through the process, which encompasses curriculum to classroom management. Johnson says it made her more reflective and a better teacher.
One of the lessons she hopes to impart on her students is to teach them to appreciate the small moments, with “Shoe Parties” in her class. When kids get new shoes, they get to stand on the table and show the class their new shoes.
“It probably sounds a little goofy, but the kids love to feel special for a few seconds,” Johnson says.