South Alumnus Selected as 2019 Outstanding Alabama Elementary School Science Teacher
Posted on November 12, 2019 by Amber Day
Timothy Johnson has been involved in the local education community since his time as a student at LeFlore Magnet High School. Now his passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics is getting statewide recognition.
Johnson, a University of South Alabama graduate, was recently honored as the 2019 Outstanding Alabama Elementary School Science Teacher. He is a STEM lab instructor at E.R. Dickson Elementary School in Mobile.
“I have worked with Mr. Johnson several years now, and can tell you that there is no one more passionate about STEM education than Tim,” said Stephanie LeGrone, Mobile County Public School System K-12 science supervisor.
After graduating with his bachelor's degree in elementary education from the USA College of Education and Professional Studies in 2010, Johnson knew his focus would be to provide hands-on learning opportunities in STEM at the elementary level.
“Timothy is a truly dedicated teacher who wants to see students excited for STEM,” said Dr. Andre Green, associate dean in the College of Education and Professional Studies. “I really enjoyed working directly with Timothy when he served as a teacher for the Summer Enrichment Program, a program sponsored through a partnership with our college and 100 Black Men of Greater Mobile.”
Johnson was a student-athlete for the USA track team for four years and was part of the USA 2007 Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship winning team. In 2012, he served as an assistant for the track team and stays in contact with his teammates to this day.
From studying robots to 3D printing, Johnson’s students at E.R. Dickson have fun and learn at the same time.
“Hands-on learning at the elementary level is important,” Johnson said. “Instructors at my school teach a concept, and then send their students to me. I bring the subject to life. After spending time with me in the lab, the kids go back to their teachers excited about the subject and want to learn more.”
After serving as an elementary teacher in the classroom for various grade levels, Johnson now serves as one of only a few elementary STEM lab instructors in the Mobile County Public School System, the largest in Alabama.
"Mr. Johnson is truly a leader and pacesetter in science, robotics and STEM activities at our school," said E.R. Dickson Elementary Principal Katryna Kinn.
Outside of being the lead science teacher for grades K-5 at E.R. Dickson, Johnson is a science curriculum writer for the school system and provides STEM professional development to schools through the Alabama Learning Exchange Science Institute, a collaborative effort between the state department of education and NASA.
“I met Mr. Johnson when I accepted his application to attend a week long camp at NASA,” said LeGrone, the science supervisor. “Only one teacher from our district was selected for this position and Tim was absolutely the right choice. After seeing his dedication to science, I secured Mr. Johnson a spot on our team for the ExxonMobil Teacher Academy. It was there that I was truly able to see the potential teacher leader that he would become. Upon our return, I immediately put him on our fourth-grade science curriculum committee where he has been instrumental in shaping the curriculum for the district, including presenting to the teachers in our district.”
Johnson has collaborated with his alma mater to serve students in Mobile County, including through the USA Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative and the Elementary STEM Challenge. This past year, 25 elementary schools attended the competition and performed challenges including the egg drop, where contestants had to select something edible in which to protect an egg as it was dropped from a high platform, and penny boats, where contestants tried to build an aluminum foil boat that would hold the most pennies.
Johnson needs to be creative in many ways to enhance his curriculum. From planning to seeking funding for advanced technology, every detail is important to ensure students are successful learners.
“My job sounds like a lot of fun, and it is, I truly enjoy every moment,” Johnson said. “I spend a lot of time daily preparing hands-on lessons in STEM for multiple grade levels. The hard work pays off, because the kids learn so much and their eyes just light up with excitement when they walk in.”