Karen Johnston is a K-1-2 teacher and team leader at Harriet Tubman Charter School. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Johnston is a founding team member of Tubman who began as a 4th grade teacher in 2011.
With more than 8 years of teaching experience, Johnston first decided she wanted to teach because of her love for children. She soon realized how rewarding it was to be in a classroom. “It is truly fulfilling to motivate and influence my students’ growth on an emotional and academic level,” she said. “Being able to watch them develop their own abilities, skills, and talents has given me the opportunity to really make a difference.”
When asked about her favorite part of teaching, Johnston said she most values the relationships she is able to make. “It is important to me that I have strong communication with my students and their families. I am providing a service to both, and I want their family members to know I am available when needed.” Johnston also appreciates being able to witness the academic gains of her students. “I love when my former students return for a visit; to see the accomplishments they have made reminds me of the love I have for being a teacher.”
Johnston attributes a lot of her own growth in the classroom to her colleagues at Tubman. “Though my team I have learned the importance of teacher actions and how it has a great influence on student actions. I set high expectations for myself and know that my students will use my example for their own success,” she said. “I truly believe that academic habits and personal values are influential to student progress.”
As one of the first teachers her students will have, Johnston knows that she is responsible for building a strong academic foundation. “I want to encourage my students to take risks and engage their minds in everything they do; I want them to understand that lifelong learning will be what cultivates their dreams.”