Curt Johnson is more than a teacher.
As Lowndes County School Superintendent Wes Taylor might put it, Johnson’s a beacon of hope. With all of the changes and challenges happening in public education, Johnson is a light at the end of the tunnel for the possibilities that are available to a child when they have a caring and dedicated teacher.
This is just a small part of why he was named Lowndes County Schools’ Teacher of the Year at Thursday’s convocation.
“I am elated, thrilled, excited,” said Johnson. “It’s an amazing feeling!”
Johnson arrived at the Lowndes County school system in August 2000. He transferred from Hamilton Middle School in Jasper, Fla. — where he worked as an engineering and technology education teacher for eight years — to Lowndes Middle School. He then transferred to Pine Grove Middle School when it opened just three years ago.
“I have always taught engineering/technology at the middle-school level,” said Johnson.
Living the motto, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, Johnson has remained an engineering and technology teacher for 21 years.
In April, Johnson was nominated to be Pine Grove Middle’s Teacher of the Year. To be qualified, one has to have a minimum of five years of teaching experience and at least three of those years in the Lowndes County system.
A teacher must also have a proven track record of increasing student achievement while maintaining the respect and admiration of students, parents and colleagues. Schools selected exceptionally dedicated, knowledgeable and skilled individuals who inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn.
Each individual school’s Teacher of the Year was required to submit an application packet with 10 pages of narrative writing and three letters of recommendation. These letters came naturally for those colleagues who submitted.
Ken Overman, Pine Grove Middle School principal, noted he could not think of a better candidate than Johnson to represent Lowndes County Schools.
“He is the consummate teacher, team leader, and mentor,” wrote Overman. “His enthusiasm, hard work, dedication and encouragement are a staple for our students, staff and parents.”
Stacy Dickey, Pine Grove Middle assistant principal, noted that Johnson’s passion for teaching spans far beyond the classroom walls.
“Mr. Johnson’s educational influence is alive and growing,” wrote Dickey. “It is apparent by student success and peer recognition that his desire for teaching spreads way beyond the confinements of his classroom.”
Renee Griffin, a Pine Grove Elementary School second-grade teacher and a parent of two Pine Grove Middle students, noted her children were excited to be a part of Johnson’s class.
“Mr. Johnson is a dedicated teacher who motivates and inspires his students to develop a love of technology,” wrote Griffin. “He has a tremendous work ethic and challenges his students in every assigned task.”
These applications and recommendations were reviewed by five local judges with the top four applications evaluated by six out-of-town judges. These judges rated the applications based on a rubric used for the Georgia Teacher of the Year program.
Grading of these applications were based on the following areas: professional biography, professional learning, community involvement, philosophy of teaching, education issues, and the teaching profession.
“I always wanted to become a school Teacher of the Year, but I never dreamed I would be able to win the system Teacher of the Year,” said Johnson.
Johnson was chosen because of the difference he makes in the lives of his students and the several contributions he makes to Pine Grove Middle School.
“Everyday in the classroom, I strive to be the best teacher I can be by teaching every child the way I would want my own child to be taught,” said Johnson.
Johnson is the school’s TSA (Technology Student Association) advisor and also serves as the team leader for the Connections Team. The National Technology Student Association recently named Johnson the Georgia TSA Middle School Advisor of the Year.
Aside from Johnson’s many accomplishments, he may be able to add Georgia Teacher of the Year to his resume soon. He is in the running for the statewide honor.
“It would be an amazing accomplishment for me, Lowndes County Schools and CTAE (Career Technical and Agricultural Education) educators,” said Johnson.
He is not just enthusiastic about his own career or his school, but the entire Lowndes County school system.
“I am truly honored and consider it a privilege to work in Lowndes County Schools,” said Johnson. “I have felt this way about Lowndes County Schools since the first day I began teaching at Lowndes County Schools in 2000.”
Johnson stated that everyone in the system, from top to bottom, seems to share a common goal of working together to provide the best education possible for every child in the Lowndes County school system.
The system’s motto is “working together for excellence everyday,” and Johnson lives this creed daily.
“The Lowndes County School System is a successful system because it employs people with a shared vision for excellence,” he said.
Johnson considers his colleagues at Pine Grove Middle a blessing.
“It’s easy to keep my passion for teaching alive when I am surrounded by a passionate staff,” said Johnson. “This is quite possibly the best staff I have ever worked with!”
Curt Johnson is more than a teacher.
- Local News
Woman fights to live after cancer
North Ashley Street closed following accident
A Sport Utility Vehicle traveling north on North Ashley Street drove into a telephone pole Monday morning, resulting in the closure of the road.
Gornto extension half complete
The Gornto Road extension project is more than half-way complete, and could be finished ahead of the one-year deadline contractors were given when the project was approved Oct. 11 by the Valdosta City Council.
Nashville honors history, musical tradition
There were more than a few Nashville residents and guests from out of town fiddlin’ around Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the Georgia Humanities Council and Smithsonian New Harmonies exhibit, celebrating roots music from the state and across the Deep South.
Locals, out-of-towners come out for food, fun at Peach Festival
The Morven Peach Festival drew a smaller crowd than usual in its 26th year, but planners weren't complaining.
Coliform found in drinking water
The cause of a water quality issue is still under investigation by the City of Valdosta Utilities Department after a water sample taken from a line in the area near the intersection of St. Augustine Road and West Hill Avenue tested positive for coliform bacteria.
The Big One: Preparing for mid-America earthquake
It’s a bleak scenario. A massive earthquake along the New Madrid fault kills or injures 60,000 people in Tennessee. A quarter of a million people are homeless. The Memphis airport — the country’s biggest air terminal for packages — goes off-line. Major oil and gas pipelines across Tennessee rupture, causing shortages in the Northeast. In Missouri, another 15,000 people are hurt or dead. Cities and towns throughout the central U.S. lose power and water for months. Losses stack up to hundreds of billions of dollars.
Preparing South Georgia for a disaster
A pair of specialized urban rescuers shed some of their protective gear for a moment and exchange relieved smiles because, on the roads across the swamps of residential rubble, a caravan of Lowndes citizens returns to a county that, according to Lowndes officials, was able to repair its wounds in the aftermath of a Category 5 storm due to a dynamic package of disaster plans.
Valdosta police honor Moody security force
Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress awarded a set of challenge coins Friday to 12 members of Moody Air Force Base’s security forces. The coin ceremony served as a thank-you from the Valdosta Police Department for the base’s operational support in handling bomb threats and helping in community matters.
Charges filed in bomb threat made from jail
A pair of inmates received additional charges this week when they reportedly phoned a bomb threat from the Lowndes County Jail to South Georgia Medical Center Tuesday, according to the Valdosta Police Department.
- More Local News Headlines
- Woman fights to live after cancer