The majority of Michelle Johnson’s students during her first year at Seaton Elementary, located a short distance from the White House in the historic Shaw neighborhood, had serious academic deficits. Despite their challenges, however, students grew at least five book levels and many had double digit growth.
Johnson is a constant learner who is always seeking to improve her practices and get better results for her students. When looking at the data, her results are phenomenal. She halved the number of “far below” grade level students in her class and improved students’ reading at a faster pace than any other teacher in the building.
Ninety percent of her students finished out the year by moving up a proficiency level or reaching proficient/advanced level. Even the most behaviorally challenged students thrive in her class and can be seen working intently and with focus. Students are known to spontaneously blurt out during class, “I just love reading!”
Ninety-nine percent of Seaton students qualify for free or reduced lunch and 45 percent are English language learners. Johnson is known for her use of the “whole brain teaching” technique in which every action and verbal direction is coupled with a physical movement that allows students to internalize information and stay engaged. She demonstrates the technique for staff and faculty observing her class.
Continually seeking to grow as an educator, Johnson participated in the Common Core Reading Corps, writing extensive curriculum that is now used on a daily basis by every second grade teacher in the district. Johnson’s students become enthusiastic learners whether engaged in whole group, small group or as independent learners. Students pose and answer questions, using higher level thinking for second graders, and feel comfortable asking for help if they don’t understand something.
Johnson reaches out to families before the year starts and develops strong relationships with parents. The day before Thanksgiving as everyone was leaving for vacation, she passed the school office and noticed one of her students sitting there. It turned out the student was unable to go home so for the next four hours they played games in the classroom.
Previously, Johnson taught fourth grade in the United Arab Emirates for two years and kindergarten in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She also received a master of Professional Studies in Political Management from the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management.
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