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Joanna Johnson brings strong sense of community to her lessons at Deerfield Elementary School

Posted: 7:34 AM, Mar 31, 2017
Updated: 2017-03-31 07:37:35-04

Joanna Johnson is not your typical grade school teacher.

For example, she doesn't have just one classroom at Deerfield Elementary School, she has many.

"Being a Title 1 teacher, I go into other people's classrooms, I'll co-teach reading lessons with the classroom teacher," said Johnson. "I'll put intervention groups to close the achievement gap."

Johnson became a Title 1 teacher two years ago when Deerfield was designated as a Title 1 school. It receives federal funding to get students up to grade level in subjects like reading and math. It's Johnson's job to find ways to make that happen.

"Being able to co-teach with other teachers in this new position opens up the door to bring in even more fun things," said Johnson.

She uses real-life experiences to tie in with the students' reading lessons. The most visible project sits outside of the building, the Little Free Library. Anyone can take a book or give a book.

"We talked about the importance of having literacy and books available for our whole community."

Johnson uses every tool and resource at her disposal to get kids reading. She meets with parents after school to talk about reading. Each month, she organizes a "Books and Breakfast" event for students and their families.

And she brings in community leaders to talk about reading topics like courage and determination.

"She has inspired others and the teachers rave about her, about her enthusiasm, her creativity and her outside-the-box thinking," said Greg Lane, the principal at Deerfield.

Johnson has been at Deerfield for all but one year in her 28-year teaching career. She's had the chance to leave, but always found a reason to stay.

"The more years I spent here, the more important it became to me, the more I realized how good it was for me to be teaching in my own community," she said.

"It gives me that feeling of I'm giving to my community if I'm teaching here in my own community school."