To do something special, you have to be a special person, and new teacher Christine Johnson is exactly that, special.
By Bret Walts
First-year teacher Christine Johnson teaches Gen. Ed for Moderate Disabilities at New Albany High School, she’s a mother with four children and two step-children and she does yoga. She loves God. However, it’s not that all that simple. There is a reason behind everything.
Originally graduating from Louisville with a bachelors degree in sociology, Johnson went back to school three years ago to get her teaching license, which she received from Indiana Wesleyan University last September.
After getting her license and being an aide at New Albany for three years, Johnson was ready for the next step in her life. She’s been an aide, a pre-school teacher, worked in child protective services, worked in a theatre, she even worked in a burger joint, but this job is different. Not everyone can do what Johnson does on a daily basis, working with special needs children can be a difficult task at times, but Johnson thrives in the environment.
“The kids here are really cool, mostly because they really do want to learn,” Johnson said. “They don’t always let on that they want to learn and they don’t always behave in ways that are conducive to learning but they really do want to learn.
According to Johnson, sometimes it is as simple as treating one another the way they would like to be treated.
“I’ve found that if you respect them then they will respect you for the most part,” Johnson said.
For Johnson, expecting the sun and the moon is not going to end well, so from the beginning she had her expectations in check.
“I think that the biggest factor is how realistic are your expectations,” Johnson said. “If your expectations aren’t realistic then you are going to be expecting things of the students that they can’t produce then everybody is going to get frustrated.
After a long day at her new job, a job that does not end at 2:26 like when she was a teacher’s aide, Johnson soothes any frustrations or aches and pains by engaging in one of her favorite activities, yoga.
“It [yoga] keeps you limber and it reduces my stress level,” Johnson said. “The poses I do I chose to help mostly with my back, legs and feet.”
Johnson learned of activities, like yoga, from Asian countries. She became motivated to take on this form of exercise.
“I learned that a lot of people in those [Asian] countries that do yoga live for a long time,” Johnson said. “I was looking for a form of exercise that didn’t cost a lot of money and that I could do at my house. I got a Yoga for Dummies tape at the library and learned about yoga and I put together a routine that fit my needs.”
While yoga helps with her physical needs, it isn’t what keeps Johnson grounded. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually one of the most important things in her life is the church and God.
“It’s [church] one of several things that keeps be grounded,” Johnson said. “It keeps things in perspective for me and it kind of helps me realize what’s truly important and what’s not and who really has the power.”
Johnson says she needs things like yoga and the church to keep her composed and balanced. As a mother with a job that presents many different challenges, she is a busy woman, so it’s the little things that keep her going.
Not everyone is up to the challenge to work with children with disabilities, but Johnson can and she does it with a smile.