Teachers of the Year: Diane Johnson

Third Grade Teacher at Grace Episcopal School in Alexandria, VA

Nominated by: Patti C.

“Diane Johnson is devoted to her students and works tirelessly to develop a true love of learning in her students. Her calm classroom management style makes every child feel valued. She surrounds learning around her theme of ‘detectives’ — so each year, the students begin with Sherlock Holmes hats and a true desire to ‘find the truth.’

Diane makes teaching look easy, but the reality is, she puts in incredibly long hours of preparation to be sure her lessons are top notch. She inspires her students to be strong scholars, but more importantly, to be good people. She often gives up her lunch hour to hold small group lunches to foster positive group dynamics. Diane is beloved by her students and highly respected among her colleagues.”


Teachers are another trusted adult children can depend on.”


Q&A with Diane Johnson

Why do you think teachers are important?

Teachers are another trusted adult children can depend on. Teachers provide support and encouragement for their students — not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well.

What is the single best piece of advice you can give parents of third-graders?

Have family time with your child. Play games and let them lose. Do projects and chores together. Encourage your child to try to solve the problems (a squeaky door, for example). Let them fail and encourage them to try again. They’ll learn perseverance and experience the wonderful feeling of accomplishment after a job well done.

What makes you excited to go into your school each day?

Every day I am trying something new. Whether it’s an entirely new unit of study, or simply a new twist on a lesson from a previous year. It’s always exciting to see which new idea will work best for my current group of students.

Do you have any tried and trusted ideas or activities for motivating students?

I have found that knowing my students well helps to motivate them. I enjoy grabbing a few moments here and there to talk with my students one-to-one. I learn about their interests outside of school and more. Often, when teaching, I refer to various things I’ve learned about individual students. I might use dinosaurs in a spelling or vocabulary lesson because I know several students have a passion for them. While reading aloud, I might be reminded of something a student mentioned about themselves during one of our conversations. They love to be recognized when I say something like, “That sounds like when Sam went rollerblading last week.” I’ve noticed that students are more eager to give their best effort in a classroom where they feel appreciated and understood.

How can parents and teachers work together to empower and engage children?

Transparency. For the most part, students should be aware of communication between parents and teacher ― making it clear that these adults are working together to help the child be successful. Students should be aware of the relationship between parents and teacher and feel confident that they have a wonderful support system in place.

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