Skip to main content

Davis Journal

Unique nature of kids makes teaching special

May 15, 2023 10:41AM ● By Becky Ginos

BHS English teacher Camille Johnson dressed up like Ruth Bader Ginsberg for one of her lessons. Johnson loves teaching teens because they’re dynamic and critical thinkers. Courtesy photo

BOUNTIFUL—Teaching is different every day and that’s why Camille Johnson loves it. The Bountiful High School English teacher goes above and beyond to help kids learn. She was recently recognized for her efforts by the Utah PTA as Outstanding Secondary Educator. 

“It was a surprise,” said Johnson. “It was humbling and a little embarrassing when you think you’re not as great as those who surround you. They all deserve an award like this. I say ‘teach me, help me.’”

Johnson has taught for 26 years and seven of those have been at Bountiful High. “I taught at an inner city school in Chicago,” she said. “Then in the Salt Lake District and came to Davis School District in 2008. I’ve taught every grade K-12.”

It’s great teaching teens, said Johnson. “They’re dynamic and critical thinkers. They’re fun and have a lot to offer. Wherever I’ve taught no matter what grade level, private or public, students rise to the occasion.”

They respond well to high expectations, she said. “That’s the universal truth. They’re great thinkers. They analyze ideas and reroute them as they go along. We’re in good hands in our future.”

There are no teaching tricks, Johnson said. “It’s the culmination of every trick you’ve heard before. What makes a teacher unique is that they love teaching. Teens can sense that you love what you do.”

There are ebbs and flows in every profession, she said. “If I had to do it over, I'd choose it again. Every day is exciting. I learn something new about them (students). Every day class will be different.”

Recognizing the unique nature of kids makes teaching special, said Johnson. “I go to games and leave notes at their home on their birthday. Those are the kind of things lots of teachers do.”

It helps the students know that they’re not just the kid who sits in desk 21, she said. “I know who they are, when it’s their birthday and what they’re involved in. They just want to know that someone recognizes them from the jazz band to the basketball team.”

In addition to English, Johnson also teaches ASL. “I started ASL in my high school,” she said. “I took a community night class. I was a certified interpreter for many years. When I started teaching full time I got re-interested in that. They don’t have a lot of programs in ASL.”

“Camille is an amazing teacher,” said BHS Principal Aaron Hogge. “She is beautifully creative and passionate about student care. She is so beloved and has great skills. She’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with. She’s a terrific teacher.”

Johnson loves teaching English. “It gives students the opportunity to think about not only the beauty of the literal words but make that beauty in their own lives and the world around them.”

Every kid does love English, they just don’t know it, she said. “Some don’t like to write but good writing is the sum total of lots of parts. They just see it in a different type of way.” 

Everyone likes to read, they just haven’t found what they like to read yet, said Johnson. “Everyone can do those things but we’re all going to do it at a certain level of competency. We’re not always going to be great at everything we do but that’s OK.”

Johnson said she doesn’t just plug in and hit play from one year to the next. “I know the students and what happened the week before then tailor it to them. Every day is a restart, a do over for kids. Whether you have a bad day or week it’s never over. That’s going to be better next week. A teenager’s story is never over. ”

It takes a lot of great teaching styles to reach all the kids, she said. “I’m not the flavor of the month for everyone.”

Having kids be together is what makes them unique, said Johnson. “They’re a conduit in this mini community every day. They’re community thinkers in the county and state. They’re going to be great. You can see it in our mini community.”

Johnson said she has loved every school she has taught in. “They’ve been fantastic. It’s been a professional honor to teach at the places I’ve taught and with the teachers I’ve taught with.” λ