Gretchen Johnson, Fifth Grade (email link)
A former naturalist and educator for the Audubon Society and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Ms. Johnson infuses fifth-grade class with her joy for the natural world. A new kind of bird outside the window, a natural disaster in the news or a field trip to a farm -- all offer Ms. Johnson teachable moments.
Her increasingly complex and deep curriculum prepares students to take greater personal responsibility in their work. They study the solar system, including a simulated rocket launch at the Challenger Learning Center and an overnight trip to Astrocamp. The U.S. history lessons include a living history event about colonial life and the Revolutionary War. Ms. Johnson's mission is to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills and to facilitate, rather than disseminate, education. She digs deep into the curriculum to constantly bring her students new information.
Ms. Johnson's promise to students? To encourage them on their quest to become their best selves and empower them with the skills they need on that journey.
Ms. Johnson earned multiple teaching credentials, including Supplemental Authorization for Middle School and Cross Cultural Language and Development certificates, from California State University, Sacramento. Mother of a 12-year-old daughter, Ms. Johnson loves to read and practice yoga as time allows.
"One of my favorite things is watching the interaction on the playground. I love seeing the community of kids, playing together and caring for each other. I think it's wonderful when I see a fifth-grader stop to help a little one, or the TKers who know all the big kids and the teachers. You just don't get that at a public school."