Kristi Johnson’s whole career has been at Three Oaks Public School Academy and she has loved every minute of it. At Three Oaks, they are all a family and deeply care for one another.
We asked Kristi some questions about her journey to teaching and what she likes the most about it. Keep reading to hear all about it. Who inspired you or why did you choose to be a teacher?
I love helping people understand things and I love children, so it was a natural fit!
Who were some of the most influential teachers that you had growing up? What made them have an impact on your life?
I was blessed to have so many wonderful teachers in life who have impacted me in different ways. One person that stands out to me would be my elementary school principal, Mr. Ykimoff. He would play with us at recess. He celebrated big accomplishments with us and he also helped get to the root of issues and sort out problems together. He really got to know us on an individual level and made everyone feel significant and loved.
What part of the mission at Three Oaks makes you invest in the community?
I really love our mission and wholeheartedly buy into it. At Three Oaks we believe that every single student can be engaged and empowered in their learning. The Muskegon community deserves a place where teachers believe in their students and push them to achieve at high levels while also loving and caring for their hearts. We strive to be that place for our parents and students.
What are you most looking forward to this upcoming year?
I always love our back to school events because we see so many big smiles, hugs, and lots of excitement for the upcoming year, so I’m definitely looking forward to that.
I’m also excited to start working with kids right away! I finished the year with a few students that made incredible gains all year with me in interventions and this school year is going to be the year we will close that gap entirely for them and I’m just so excited to see it happen.
If you have a bad day, what makes you get up the next morning and be the best teacher possible?
I personally draw my strength and motivation from my faith in God. The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” So I pray on my way to work and I try to live according to what I believe
What’s your secret ingredient in your classroom? What techniques do you use that students really gravitate toward?
I don’t know if I have any secret ingredient, per se. I get to know my students really well as learners – what their strengths and weaknesses are and what strategies will help them move forward. I give very specific frequent feedback and praise students for successfully completing a challenging text or utilizing a strategy on their own. They graph the results of their progress monitoring, which often leads to organic goal setting and investment. It’s nothing revolutionary, but I believe that with the right support they can do very hard things and I make sure they believe and trust that I will do whatever it takes to get them there.
What was your journey to obtain your college degree? What school did you attend?
I went to Michigan State University and knew right away I wanted to major in Elementary Education. I joined the Urban Educators Cohort Program on accident and ended up developing a passion for urban education. My classes opened my eyes to some of the extreme challenges students and families face every day and how those things can dramatically impact learning. I was surprised by how many people seek to avoid urban or low-income schools or use them as a stepping stone in their career. I wanted to find a school that was empowering under-served populations and commits to a community that other people weren’t willing to commit to.
If you have previously taught, where did you teach and for how long?
My whole career has been at Three Oaks! I found Choice Schools through the MSU Job Fair, they matched me up with Three Oaks and I’ve been here ever since. I taught 5th grade for four years and have been an interventionist for one year.
What do you do outside of the classroom? What are your hobbies?
I like to spend as much time with my husband as I can. We go for walks, volunteer at our church, and have recently gotten into playing board games (kinda dorky, but more fun than I thought)! I also like to read – mostly historical fiction.