Johnson: “Be the reason your students come to school.”

Andrea Carson Johnson, 2020 Virginia Teacher of the Year, speaks at Student Teaching Orientation

Andrea Carson Johnson, 2020 Virginia Teacher of the Year, speaks at the SOE 2020 Student Teaching Orientation.
Andrea Carson Johnson speaks at Student Teaching Orientation.

Before a gathering of VCU School of Education student teachers and interns, 2020 Virginia Teacher of the Year Andrea Carson Johnson encouraged them to push their own students to consider the legacy they hope to leave on humanity during their lifetime.

Johnson, who is a 12th-grade English teacher at Salem High School in Roanoke Valley, said that even though her students belong to a generation that’s been linked to technology since birth, many of them still feel isolated. That’s one of the reasons that she works so diligently to ensure that their voices are the backbone of her classroom.

“Our students’ beliefs matter - we must teach them to add their voices to the collective conversation if we want them to become the effective leaders of tomorrow,” she said.

Johnson told the crowd that many of them would find themselves teaching at a Title I school at some point in their careers. Her first teaching job was at Lakeland High School, a Title I school in Suffolk. She said that the experience taught her a lot about life.

“The fact that some kids make it to school, and are receptive to learning, despite all they’re experiencing at home, is truly a miracle,” she said.

“As educators, we must work to understand our students’ stories and love them unconditionally.”

The orientation also included a general session for all academic programs with information about student expectations, as well as assistance available to student teachers. The general session was followed by program-specific sessions facilitated by faculty coordinators.

View the Flickr album of photos from the orientation.