Salem teacher returns to school after being named Virginia's 2020 Teacher of the Year

'This is such an amazing opportunity, and I'm so honored.'​​​​​

A Salem High School teacher returned to the classroom for the first time since receiving the state's top honor for educators.

Wednesday was just like any other day at Salem High School for Andrea Johnson, a 12th grade career, communications and college preparation English teacher, except for one not-so-small thing.

On Monday night, Johnson was named Virginia's 2020 Teacher of the Year during a ceremony in Richmond.

"When I heard my name, it was just shock," Johnson said. "This is such an amazing opportunity, and I'm so honored."​​​​​​


Johnson discovered her passion for teaching one summer while working for 4-H.


"Then I realized after doing it, this is my calling: kids and teaching and English."


Her students said they notice her passion every day.


"Mrs. Johnson is wonderful!" said D​​​​​iara White, a senior at Salem High.


"She's so nice and energetic. I just love her," said Tyler Williams, another senior.


It's not the first time a teacher from Salem has been honored. Over the past decade, the district has had four regional teachers of the year and two state teachers of the year.


"That's pretty remarkable in and of itself," said Dr. Alan Seibert, the division superintendent for Salem City Schools.


Johnson knows that what these kids learn walking through the halls of their school impacts how they walk through life.


"Mrs. Johnson and her class really prepares you for college: writing papers, studying this and that, " Williams said. "She's just really good at her job."

"She automatically is giving us 110% every single day. So I think her strive for greatness every day is really awesome, so I'll definitely take that out of the classroom," White said.

Johnson said she tries to teach her students kindness, how to respectfully communicate with each other -- even if they don't share the same beliefs-- and how to find their own voices and write their own stories.

"To see joy and their future in front of them and to know that I had a hand in crafting the adults that they are going to become, that's just amazing. There's no other feeling like it in the world."

This coming spring, Johnson heads to the White House to compete for the 2020 title of National Teacher of the Year.

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