FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – For the second year, the Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools has celebrated the teacher of the year in a more personal way – by bringing the award to them.
Fresno County Schools Superintendent Jim Yovinos showing up to personally award the 2021 Teacher of the Year award was meant to be a surprise.
This year’s winner was Clovis Unified teacher Sherri Johnson. Johnson comes from a family of educators and says she knows first hand the difference a good teacher and a positive role model can make in a child’s life.
“It’s really important that as teachers we address all the needs of the students, not just the academic needs, so we really need to get to the students personally and address any other needs they might have and support them in any way that we can,” said Johnson.
Johnson has taught for 35 years, the last six spent teaching kindergarten and first-grade students at Cole Elementary in Clovis Unified.
“I love it because I want to make a positive impact from the get-go,” said Johnson. “From their first experiences in school.”
Many of the students at Cole Elementary face challenges and need additional support. Johnson works with a program to make sure those students get that support. She’s an advocate for kids with special needs, starting a club called Building Bridges.
“Building bridges is a group of students who are learning about disability awareness also about bullying and being aware of full inclusion for everybody to make sure that no one’s left behind or left out,” said Johnson.
Her work extends into the community – after seeing how foster students struggled in school she decided to become a foster mom.
She fostered 25 kids and adopted six of them. 24-year-old Brittany and 21-year-old Tiffany often help out in her classroom.
“I have always wanted to feel wanted and she makes me feel loved and wanted,” said adopted daughter Tiffany Johnson.
Johnson says seeing kids thrive and realizing she can make a difference inspires her to keep going.
“It’s a labor of love for me, so I wasn’t doing it to seek any accolades or recognition but I’m extremely honored that they would give me this award.”