The work our teachers do often means completing the hard things that will set us up for future success. Giving out a test. Pushing us to sharpen our minds. Administering consequence so we can learn and grow from our mistakes. But all good teachers know that in every classroom, along with the not-so-fun things, there has to be some laughter.
Meet Lucinda Johnson and Laura Blythe-Goodman, our Extraordinary Educators this week! These two teachers in our community have had their fair share of hectic school days, but they shared with us some of their favorite (and funniest!) moments teaching in High Point.
“Life is to be lived. Always do your best. Middle school doesn’t last forever, and in the big picture of life, it’s very small. The best is yet to come!”
Lucinda Johnson teaches eighth grade science at Penn Griffin School for the Arts. She was nominated by her principal, Howard Stimpson, who said Lucinda, “inspires high growth in students, mentors colleagues, and advocates for her profession.”
Lucinda calls Penn Griffin, “a group of great educators who are highly qualified to complete this task and exceed district expectations.” She describes her own teaching style much like her parenting style: firm, fair and loving. For her, education is all about relationships, and she cites the trust she builds with her students both in and outside of the classroom as the reward for her work. It’s also serves as her motivator.
“The hope that our partnership can lead to them being academically proficient and lifelong learners excites me,” Lucinda says of her students. “All students can learn! It is the task of each educator to connect and find ways to teach each student individually.”
But even in the midst of working hard to build relationships that foster academic growth, Lucinda isn’t afraid to laugh with her students. She recalls one particularly hurried morning.
“Trying to get all four of my sons out of the house and get to school on time is always a huge undertaking,” she says. After waking up late, spilling coffee, and finally dropping her sons off at daycare and school, she raced into the classroom.
“I started the students on the warmup for the day, and one of my students asked to speak to me privately,” Lucinda remembers. “I walked with her outside of the classroom, and she politely told me my dress was inside out and I had on mismatched shoes! …The student was so sweet to me. She didn’t want me to be embarrassed about it in front of the other kids. We went back into the room and laughed about it with the rest of the class!”
“I work hard to try to help my students understand that if they keep trying a new thing and don’t give up, they’re learning more than if they just kept doing something they already knew how to do. This is sometimes hard to understand, as it is more comfortable to be successful. I try to pass on the idea that trying hard at a new thing will help you learn, even when it feels frustrating.”
Winner of Teacher of the Year Award at her school, Shadybrook Elementary, Laura Blythe-Goodman teaches second grade. She was nominated by her principal, George Green. Laura sees her role as a teacher at Shadybrook as one that contributes to a larger community – from her classroom to her school to the city of High Point.
Inspired by her own teachers throughout school, including her third-grade teacher, her high school journalism teacher, and her grandmother who was a substitute teacher, Laura carries the lessons she learned into the way she leads her own classroom.
“My grandmother had grade levels she loved to teach (elementary and high school), and grade levels she would prefer not to teacher (middle school),” Laura recounts. “However, she was a substitute in a small town, so if she got a call to sub at the middle school for a day, she knew they had tried every other sub and had called her last. She always took the jobs.”
Like her grandmother, Laura tries to remember that eagerness to serve should be at a teacher’s heart – even in the hard and hectic days.
“I try to remember that although there might be things in life I like doing best, it is always important to pitch in to help wherever I am needed,” she says.
Looking back, Laura remembers the ways she led her classroom in her first year as a teacher, spending a short moment reading portions of a chapter book to her students. When the librarian later told Laura that students would come to the library eager to find the book and other in its series, she was encouraged by the love of reading she was fostering. This love of reading eventually led to a moment filled with laughter and learning in her classroom in later years.
At the end of one school year, Laura treated her classroom to a “book tasting” day to encourage growth towards independent reading.
“I decorated our room to look like a café, had soft music playing, and made menus of books the students could ‘taste,’ or read for a few minutes to see if they would like them,” she says. “I handed out the menus and took orders, and it was funny to me how much the students got into It. They pretended they were in a restaurant and even made up funny side orders to go along with the books!”
Discovering our High Points,
Photography by Maria West Photography