After growing up in Colorado, I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. I was attracted to St. Olaf by the nationally known mathematics and music departments as well as the small student teacher ratio typical of liberal arts schools. I thrived in this environment where strong relationships with professors were the norm, stimulating discussion and rigor highly valued, and the expectation to give one’s best, yielded success. I graduated cum laude in 1987 with a double major in political science and an interdisciplinary major in women’s studies, as well as a minor in mathematics.
With the intention of teaching on the collegiate level I applied and was accepted to a Masters/PhD. program in the social science department of Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. While awaiting news of my acceptance I took a position working at Holden Village Retreat Center where I had the opportunity to volunteer in the Holden Village School working with elementary students. (The seed was planted to consider working with students at the beginning of their school careers instead of the end.) While at Holden Village I was able to meet and talk with professors from all over the country and determined that jobs in social science teaching, on the collegiate level, in a discipline as narrow as mine were few and far between. However, the most significant result of my time working for Holden Village was meeting my husband, Dane Johnson.
Dane and I moved to Montana in 1991 where he completed a teaching credential program, having settled on a career change from dentistry. While Dane was in school and student teaching at a nearby Native American school, I worked as an office manager for a busy neurology clinic. We returned to the Chelan valley in 1993 where we married and began a position running the Holden Village Bed and Breakfast at 25 Mile Creek on the south shore of Lake Chelan, as well as running Field’s Point Landing for the Forest Service.
In 1996 we completed our commitment at the bed and breakfast and Field’s Point and were able fulfill a long anticipated dream of traveling to Guatemala for an extended stay. Our goal was to study Spanish and return to the area and work with the Latino community. Our learning opportunities in Guatemala surpassed our expectations. Upon returning in January of 1997 Dane began an evening tutoring teaching position with the Manson School district, mainly working with Latino students, and I began working as a paraprofessional in the Manson Elementary Special Education room teaching Spanish reading to students who had been identified as needing special ed. reading instruction in their primary language. I was then hired by the district to be the one-on-one teacher, teaching all subjects to a behaviorally and academically at-risk student.
In the spring of 1998 my friend Vicky Eiben, in whose classroom I had volunteered years before at the Holden Village School, approached me with the proposal that we job-share a teaching position. Vicky was at that point a master teacher of eighteen years and she and I had often spoken of starting our own school. A position was open in the multi-age primary classroom of Chelan Valley Independent School, a school that encompassed so many qualities of the school we’d always dreamed of starting. With new babies in hand we applied as a job-share and began working together in the fall of 1998 for what would be a five-year partnership. While Vicky worked in her areas of greatest interest and expertise, namely, language arts and science, I took on math, music and Spanish.
I have been quite fortunate in having had several wonderful, committed, and inspiring teaching partners over the course of my thirteen-year career at CVIS. Partnering has allowed me to share my time between the care and raising of our two children and my passion for teaching and the professional pursuit of life-long learning. My first ten years were spent primarily in the primary classroom with the last two primarily in the intermediate classroom. For the 2010-11 school year I serve as a mathematics specialist teaching four sections of math from middle school to primary grades. I also provide music and drama instruction for K-8 students.
While I have enjoyed teaching many subjects over the course of my career my greatest professional passions are in teaching mathematics and theatrical arts. I am fascinated by and committed to teaching mathematics using a variety of modalities designed to reach and teach to diverse learning styles. I have particularly loved using the Bridges math curriculum for the last several years, a curriculum that received one of the top ratings by the Washington OSPI when our state math standards were revised in 2008-9. This fine curriculum provides superb tools for introducing students to the joys of mathematics and endless connections one can make, as well as providing consistently strong results in student achievement.
For the past decade I have had the extreme personal and professional privilege of directing our all-school musical productions. I remain committed to this academic pursuit for the powerful life skills that are nurtured. Self-confidence, pubic speaking, cooperative learning, creative problem solving, critical thinking, meeting deadlines, self-expression, are just a few in the skill set. Returning alumni have commented on how their drama education has assisted them in becoming poised presenters, engaged group leaders, and confident collaborators. To witness the learning and transformation that can occur as students prepare to perform is a privilege.
Teaching at CVIS provides me the opportunity to work with a diverse and inspiring staff, a committed group of parents, and most importantly to instruct, nurture and challenge unique and wonderful students over time. Knowing students deeply allows for dynamic and engaging learning. In our multi-age setting where we can teach students for multiple years, we know students deeply.