Ben Johnson – Class of 2008
Educator - Physical Education Instructor,
Hallyburton Academy and North Liberty School;
Football Coach, Liberty Middle School

Education in the public schools can take many forms as the needs of students can be unique and varied. Now in his seventh year with Burke County Schools, Ben Johnson is one such educator who finds fulfillment in finding ways to meet those needs.

“I often tell people I have the most diverse teaching job in the county,” explains Ben, “and I enjoy my job for several reasons. My mornings are spent at North Liberty School doing adaptive physical education with students that have a broad spectrum of disabilities. I get to work with some of the sweetest students you’ll ever meet at North Liberty. The amazing things that happen every day at North Liberty make it really easy to get up and go to work in the morning. Growing up, I had a cousin who has Down syndrome. He has attended North Liberty most of his schooling. Being around him my whole life and completing my senior project at North Liberty inspired me to find some way to work with students with disabilities.

“My afternoons are at Hallyburton Academy with the middle school students. The students at Hallyburton offer a very different aspect and require different approaches, but being able to be a stable figure in their lives is a good reward.

“The teaching profession has challenges as does any other job. For me personally I work with students who cannot participate in PE in the regular setting, so I must find different ways for them to be successful in the gym. When working with the students at Hallyburton, I have to find a way to connect with them despite their animosity toward school and other things. As with many students in our area, poverty plays a big part in the students' success. The students at Hallyburton have had many setbacks in life, so being able to work with them, possibly help them get on a path to be successful and contribute to society, is a great reward.”

In addition to his teaching duties, Ben also coaches football at Liberty Middle School and assists with other sports there. “During high school and summers during college, I worked at a couple of daycares and summer programs here in Burke county. I realized I had a good skill when it came to working with children. I also knew I wanted to coach. I worked at Patton High School for my first two years out of college and then had the opportunity to go back to East Burke as a teacher and coach. I spent three years there where I was an inclusion teacher in the exceptional children’s department and also coached.”

Ben received his Bachelor of Science in Education from Emory and Henry College in Emory, Virginia. Two specialty areas on his teaching license are Physical Education and General Curriculum for Special Education. His next goal is to earn his National Board Certification.

“I played several sports at EB during my tenure there, and I was able to get a football scholarship to attend college. I was also a member of the Service Club, which provided me an insight to putting others before myself. The mentor list and those who have helped me along the way is a long one, way too long to mention everyone. But during my time as a student at East Burke, all of the coaches I played for guided me to a successful path. My parents, of course, have been substantial in helping me to where I am today. I still have contact with several of the people from East Burke.”

Dedicated teachers and coaches like Ben who strive to find ways to reach every student no matter the situation or circumstance serve to make our school system, our communities, and our society stronger. Each of these educators was inspired and encouraged by others and in turn can pass on those great lessons to future generations.

Published December 2019

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