The smiles on the faces of students when they understand a concept and seeing their growth are treasures for Melissa Johnson.
A compassionate and tenderhearted teacher, Johnson, 36, is in her third year as dean of the Butte High Career Center working with at risk students in grades K-12.
Johnson has a BA from UM-Western in K-12 special education, and master's degree from MSU-Northern in education counseling and guidance and UM in educational leadership and worked as the graduation coach at Butte High before her present position.
A wife and mother of three, Melissa said, “I started my career as a special education teacher in the district. It was then I realized there are so many needy kids. I became a foster parent, mentored youth with behavior issues, and reached out and touched those not going anywhere, knowing they needed more than just education.”
Butte High guidance counselor Hilma Parks nominated Melissa, saying she is a great asset for education, an outstanding educator who is completely devoted to whatever project she is involved in. She goes above and beyond to make sure disadvantaged children are academically, physically and emotionally cared for by looking out for their needs.
“Shoes for the Sole” is a program Melissa instituted to provide gym shoes for less fortunate students in elementary and junior high. More than 200 pairs have been purchased with teachers’ donations in 1½ years and delivered by BHCC students.
Co-worker Kathy Cannon said, “Melissa is genuinely compassionate all day every day and fun to be around.”
Most of the students at BHCC are kids at risk, Melissa said. She schedules and develops plans for students with academic or behavioral issues, and works with them on credits for graduation.
“I love my job!” she said. “I try to find ways for the 9-12 grade alternative students to help them enjoy school and get back on track to graduate. My greatest satisfaction is seeing kids walk across the stage at graduation; they finally made it. Some kids struggle after graduation and come back to seek help as they try to get established, but we have a lot who are great successes.”