Position: Math / Computer Science Teacher
School: Kinnelon High School
School District: Kinnelon Public Schools
City, State: Kinnelon, New Jersey
About the Nominee: Linda Johnson was nominated by a colleague, John Marshall. Ms. Johnson has taught mathematics and computer science at Kinnelon High School (KHS) since the fall of 1974. In a career spanning more than 40 years, she has been the embodiment of instructional excellence. Her nominator, Mr. Marshall, has the unique perspective of knowing "Miss J" as both a teacher and a colleague. 23 years ago, he was a freshman in Miss J’s honors Geometry class. In total, he took four full year academic courses with her and was a member of her Academic Decathlon team. Even though mathematics and computer science were not his strongest subjects, Miss J was committed to ensuring that he and his classmates not only learned and understood the material, but that they developed confidence in their abilities.
When Mr. Marshall returned to KHS as a teacher in the fall of 2002, he quickly understood that high school students are extremely perceptive and gravitate to teachers who care deeply about their learning and success. Miss J has always been one of those teachers; she has a special gift for working with high school age students. Her commitment to her students’ learning is unmatched, as is the culture of caring and support she has fostered in her classroom. If you walk the halls of KHS after 3pm, Ms. J’s room is always open. Her students know that she is available for extra help every day, to answer questions and do whatever it takes for her students to succeed.
Her impact on her students’ high school careers is not limited to mathematics and computer science. Over the years, she has written hundreds (if not thousands) of college letters of recommendation. When writing these letters, she doesn't use a standard form. Instead, she crafts eloquent, personal letters that are legendary amongst KHS alumni. Her letters have undoubtedly helped many former students gain admission to top schools. She has also served as a coach of the KHS Academic Decathlon team for more than 25 years. Her teams unfailingly reach the state finals and routinely finish in the top 10 teams in the state. They often outpace much larger high schools due, in large measure, to Miss J's ability to instruct students in a wide array of subjects. One student remarked that they had learned more grammar from Miss J than in all of his English classes!
As a colleague of Mr. Hall, Miss J became a mentor and friend. Many of the instructional techniques that he learned from her, from infusing literacy into content areas to formative assessment, are at the cutting edge of educational thought. It is this commitment to instructional excellence that led to her selection as Educator of the Year several years ago by the Lakeland Hills Area YMCA. This commitment also makes her classroom the first stop when former students come back to visit KHS.
Miss J's career is the archetype of the dedicated educator. She is a wonderful LifeChanger in her community!