2013 Teacher of the Year: Tania Johnson

Teacher Appreciation Week is in full swing! Our Linn Area Credit Union roots are actually with teachers (see why here or find out about The Teacher Store here), so we especially ADORE this week. But enough about us. We are so proud to have Tania Johnson as a member! You might know her as the 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year, but we like to think of her as family. :o)

Tania was kind enough to chat with us a little bit about her teaching experience and receiving such a prestigious honor! (Did you like that 50 cent word I threw in there??)

Left to Right: Gov. Terry Branstad, Tania Johnson 2013 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. Photo credit: UNI.edu.

Who was your favorite teacher?
I had many favorite teachers so I can’t list just one. If I think about who my favorite teachers were and why. They were all my favorite for the same reasons, not because of how they taught me but because of the feeling they gave me … the feeling they really cared about me. From my favorite elementary teachers to my favorite middle school and high school  teachers, they all made a connection with me and showed they cared about me.

What made you decide to become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I had the opportunity to visit classrooms when I was in school and really liked helping the kids. I also think that the teachers I had influenced me to go into teaching. I had many experiences at UNI to find out I enjoyed teaching in the primary grades.

What is your favorite part of your job?
The kids and the families.

Where were you when you notified that you were Teacher of the Year?
The day after my interview I had a phone message from someone from Des Moines. I stopped at home to pick up the kids for piano, saw the message and returned the call in the car on the way to piano lessons. I didn’t realize it was “the call” since we weren’t supposed to find out for a week. When the person I was calling said, “Yes, this is Jason Glass, I called you.” I thought it might be and then when he said, “Congratulations!” I knew. I didn’t hear much more of what he said except that I couldn’t tell anyone until they announced it in September. So my family had to keep the secret for a month.

Who is the first person you told?
My kids were the first to figure it out, since they were in the car and heard me talking on the phone. I told my husband next. Everyone else had to wait.

How has this honor changed you?
I hope it hasn’t but I do believe this honor is going to give me the opportunity to learn a great deal about education in Iowa and the nation. I hope I can be a voice for teachers.

Were you nervous to accept the honor?
I was nervous to accept the honor and relieved to not have to keep the secret anymore. The best part about accepting the honor was being able to say thank-you to everyone who has been a part of making me who I am. Being the Teacher of the Year is not an honor that I have earned independently; so many people have encouraged, mentored, collaborated and worked with me over the years. I could not have done this alone.

Besides being named teacher of the year, what is your favorite memory from your career?
Too many memories of students to list (great field trips, kindergarten excitement, seeing kids in public, getting National Board Certification, teaching overseas).

If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be doing?
I always thought I would be a vet because I love animals but in reality I can’t imagine not being a teacher.

Thank you so much to Tania and all the other AMAZING teachers out there! We appreciate ALL that you do!