University of the Ozarks senior education major Maggie Johnson didn’t have to look far to find her professional role model.
The physical education major with a K-12 licensure from Atoka, Tenn., plans to follow in her father’s footsteps as a classroom teacher following her graduation from college on May 13.
“My entire life I’ve seen the passion that my father has for teaching,” said Johnson. “He’s been a great example to me that when you find your passion, it’s not work. I discovered that when I got to Ozarks and into the teacher education program, that teaching was my passion as well.”
Johnson spent the last year serving an internship in the Russellville School District as a junior high health and physical education teacher as well as track coach. Her days consisted of a full seven class-periods.
“It’s definitely been a busy, busy, busy year, but I feel like I learned so much,” Johnson said. She called her internship “a blast.”
“Once I got over my nerves, it took off,” she said. “I think the biggest surprise was how much I loved it, and then the rewards that grew from it. I was also surprised whenever I got feedback from my students. I knew I was doing something right when my students were having just as much fun as me. The biggest challenge was all of the preparation it takes. Every day, I had to come with a game plan, or otherwise there would be chaos. I had no option to procrastinate.”
Johnson is used to busy schedules. Not only was she an honor student in the classroom at Ozarks, she competed on the University’s women’s soccer and tennis teams.
“In the fall, when I had soccer, 17 hours, and a part-time internship, I was pretty stressed,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t have time to even think. This semester, when the internship was my only class, it was a lot less to keep track of. It was more of a time commitment, but I felt like I could juggle it easier. As soon as I left school every day, I went to tennis practice for another two and a half hours. It was a lot of long days, but my friends and family saw me through it. My tennis teammates were some of the most understanding about it. They always had my back and I’m forever grateful for them.”
Johnson said she wasn’t sure she wanted to be a teacher until she got into the University’s Pat Walker Teacher Education Program.
“When I got into some of my upper level classes under Dr. [Brett] Stone and Mrs. [Pam] Terry, then it just fell in to place,” Johnson said. “Dr. Stone and Jeremy Provence got me thoroughly prepared in my physical education and health content knowledge, which was the foundation. Mrs. Terry and Dr. Stone helped me figure out how to apply that knowledge in the class room. Without the three of them, I would not have been prepared for this internship.”
Johnson said she felt she had an advantage over interns from other colleges because Ozarks’ education students spend an entire year in the classroom as opposed to several weeks.
“The way our internship II is set up, I was able to be at the schools with my mentor before the students got to school,” Johnson said. “I got to see the craziness of the first few days, and how they prepare for everything. Other schools stick their interns in once all of the kinks have been smoothed out, and I don’t think it prepares them for those decisions later in their career as well.”
She said she is confident her Ozarks education has prepared her for a career in education.
“Anytime over the last four years when I was ever unsure of my path, I had professors like Mrs. Terry, Dr. Stone, and Mr. Provence to help me sort through anything,” she said. “Our professors at Ozarks help students more than they get credit for. I am so grateful for them.”