The Dawson County School System has officially chosen the district’s 2021-22 Teacher of the Year: Carson Johnson, a Special Education teacher at Riverview Elementary School.
Johnson has been teaching for about 16 years, four of which have been in the Dawson County School System. She teaches special education classes for kindergarten-fifth grade, and currently teaches third through fifth grade.
Johnson said she first started teaching special education classes because she’s always been interested in giving personalized teaching to help a child succeed.
“Special education in particular was very intriguing to me,” Johnson said. “I’m a problem solver and I love to try to figure out the best way to teach a child, so in special education every child’s brain and needs are so unique so it’s fascinating to me — I love that.”
But more than just helping children figure out how to succeed, Johnson said special education holds a place in her heart because the specialized needs and hurdles her students must overcome hit close to home.
“My daughter gets special ed services and that’s what spurs me on, and she is now in middle school and I empathize with every student who has a learning difference,” Johnson said. “They have to work so much harder at everything than everybody else does.”
Because of this, Johnson said she always teaches by her motto that hangs in her classroom: ‘you can do hard things’.
“I tell my students that I know this is hard and I can empathize with you,” Johnson said. “I just tell them, ‘listen I know it’s hard, I believe you, but you can do hard things’ and tell them ‘we’re gonna persevere, we’re gonna get through it, and you’re gonna be such a strong person when you get on the other side of it’.”
Through her 16 years of teaching, Johnson said she’s gotten to see her hard work pay off when she’s seen her students succeed through the rest of their classes and move on into their careers.
“The main reason that I’m still teaching is seeing the progress that students in special education can make given the right instruction and intervention and how it changes lives,” Johnson said. “I’ve just been in it for enough time to see my past third graders go on to careers and be successful, so that’s just beautiful to me to see that and see them be successful. That’s very rewarding.”
Surprised to have been chosen as the school system’s teacher of the year, Johnson added she is excited and honored to show how important special education is.
“We specifically came to Dawson County from Forsyth County; I specifically came to bring my daughter for the education,” Johnson said. “I want people to know that their children are receiving that superior education in Dawson County; it’s not about economic income or that sort of thing. It really is about just how excellent the teachers, the administration, the staff and the whole education system in Dawson County is and how it provides for the kids.”
In the end, Johnson said that the honor will only spur her on more to continue giving her students the best education she can provide to them.
“I’m gonna teach every child like I want my child to be taught,” Johnson said. “Going home to those learning differences every night and saying ‘what do I want for my daughter tomorrow’ is what I try to give to the students in my classroom.”