After almost four decades in the classroom, one local teacher hasn't lost the ability to keep kids engaged and excited about learning.
Beginning in June, Mary Johnson expects to travel to different parts of the country to spend more time with her family. She's retiring from the Holmen School District after 38 years of teaching. "I've enjoyed every minute of it," said Mary Johnson, April Top Notch Teacher.
But as she finishes up the last couple months of her career, she's focused on another type of family.
"Your class is like your family." In this family Mrs. Johnson is one of 29. But she doesn't let the large class size get in the way of connecting with each student.
"You have to get to know everything about the kids, I try to get to know, do they have any pets? Do they like sports? Kind of get to know them outside of what they do here in school."
Her ability to connect outside is also helping inside the classroom. Hunter George, who nominated Mrs. Johnson, says he's learned a lot in 3rd grade and will miss his teacher next year. "She's teaching me a lot of math stuff, like 121 divided by 11 equals 11," said George.
More than teaching the basic subjects, Mrs. Johnson says she works to shape the character of her students.
As you can imagine, that approach for 38 years, has had a big impact, but Mrs. Johnson says she's the one who's grateful. "I'm honored that they chose me, I really am. It was really humbling, I work with wonderful people that keep me going, I think everybody at this school is Top Notch Teachers."
Mrs. Johnson has spent her entire career in Holmen teaching kindergarten through fourth grade.
She says much of her success as a teacher is because of the support from her colleagues over the years, something she'll miss when she retires.