Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Teacher Who Wouldn’t Give Up

Mrs. Johnson, 9th grade English at Lincoln Junior High (which was right next door to John Hay) slapped Charles Smith right across the face the first day of class for something he said. Charles promptly returned the favor and ran out of the room with Mrs. Johnson on his heels. We all sat there pretty quiet for what seemed like a long time. Then in came Mrs. Johnson, followed a few minutes later by Charles. Apparently they had come to some understanding, because that is the only memory I have of 9th grade English, and Charles, one of the few black students we had at Lincoln, went on to be a star fullback on our High School team and then went into teaching and ended up as a high school principal (I saw him at our 40th high school reunion). I don’t know if he ever gave Mrs. Johnson any credit for encouraging him on his career path, but her dealing with an unruly student as she did, and her refusal to give up on him without a “fight” sure made an impression on me. I always did well in English.

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