Up Close & Personal: Rebecca Johnson

Published 10:35 am Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rebecca Johnson and student Stella Diebel. -- MERLE MONAHAN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Rebecca Johnson and student Stella Diebel. — MERLE MONAHAN | TIDEWATER NEWS


FRANKLIN—Rebecca Johnson jokes that she has been in kindergarten for 10 years and plans to stay there because she likes it.

Johnson, of course, is not a student. The energetic young woman is a kindergarten teacher at Nottoway Elementary School, where she has been since 2004. She says she can’t see herself doing anything else.

“I love my job,” she revealed. “This is all I’ve ever wanted to do, and I feel so fortunate to be working in a place like Nottoway.

“My co-workers are great and the children are just wonderful, so bright and eager to learn.”

Johnson, 31, is the daughter of Gary and Amy Leinart and a native of Windsor, where she graduated from Windsor High School.

She then earned her degree in early childhood education from Longwood University and immediately took the position of kindergarten teacher at Nottoway. She and her husband, Matthew, are residents of Franklin, from which she commutes to the school daily.

The young wife, who is one of two kindergarten teachers at the school, has 23 students ages 5 and 6. She says her job is to make it fun to learn and she believes she has succeeded

She smiled as she said, “I sometimes get calls from mothers who say their child is too sick to attend school and cried when they were told they had to stay home.

“I am happy they feel this way,” she added. “It proves that what we do is working.

“My students can already read and write, add, subtract and do fractions,” she continued. “They also know how to operate the computer and use the smart board.

“This makes it so much easier when they start first grade,” she added.

Johnson emphasized the importance of early teaching. She said she knows from experience how much it helps.

“My mom, who believes strongly in education and always wanted to be a teacher herself, used to read to my sister and I, until we learned ourselves,” she said.

“As a matter of fact, my sister, who is a third-grade teacher, and I played school when we were young. Our toys were our students.

“Then, when we started school, I found that I loved it. Each year I fell in love with my teacher.”

Johnson said her mother, who just retired as a nurse after 40 years, still has the desire to teach, so she comes to her classroom once a week to help out.

“My students love her and she loves them. This combination works well for all of us,” she said with a smile.

NAME: Rebecca Johnson
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I was raised in Windsor and have lived in the area all my life.
HOMETOWN: Windsor.
OCCUPATION: Kindergarten teacher at Nottoway Elementary School.
MARITAL STATUS: Married to Matthew Johnson.
CHILDREN, AGES AND SCHOOLS: No children, biologically, but I have 23 wonderful ones here at Nottoway Elementary.
FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: Any night out with my husband.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT: The Cheesecake Factory at Virginia Beach.
FAVORITE FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Any dish made with cheese and coffee.
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I went on a mission trip to Peru several summers ago. While there, I worked at a children’s home, passing out Bibles and spreading the word of God.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: I can see the good in everybody, both adults and children.
PETS: None.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: I often absent-mindedly chew on the end of my pen or pencil.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: I love to garden, and attend basketball games at N.C. State, where my husband graduated. I also like to spend time with my family.
PET PEEVE: I dislike grumpy people who treat others poorly.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB: I worked at Little Folks Day Care in Carrolton.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As one who loved her job working with children and one who made a positive difference in their lives.
IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I would speak about the early education of our children. I would stress to parents the importance of teaching their children as much as possible as early as possible. For instance, the more a child knows when he starts school, the better he will learn in school. Parents, children are eager to learn and what better place than at home?