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2011 News Releases

Longwood alumna selected Region 8 Virginia Teacher of the Year

October 20, 2011

Rachel Brogdon Johnson

Longwood University alumna Rachel Brogdon Johnson, a Title I reading and mathematics teacher at LaCrosse Elementary School in Mecklenburg County, is the Region 8 Virginia Teacher of the Year.

Johnson, the 2010-11 Mecklenburg County Teacher of the Year, learned of the honor in a ceremony Sept. 20 at her school. The announcement was made by the Mecklenburg County school superintendent, Dr. James Thornton (also a Longwood graduate); the assistant superintendent for instruction, Dr. Kim Evans; and the supervisor of personnel, Nan Alga (also a Longwood graduate), who was her principal last year. Others who attended the announcement ceremony were her principal, Connie S. Puckett, and her fellow teachers, the student body, and members of the Mecklenburg County School Board.

"It was a complete surprise," said Johnson, who received plaques from Gov. Bob McDonnell and the state superintendent of public instruction, Dr. Patricia Wright.

Region 8, one of eight regions as defined by the Virginia Department of Education, encompasses Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.

Johnson earned a B.S. from Longwood in 1985 in early education NK-4 and an M.S. from Longwood in December 2009 in literacy and culture with a teaching endorsement as a reading specialist.

She has taught for 27 years, the last four years at LaCrosse Elementary. Before that, she was a third grade teacher at Buckhorn Elementary, a National Blue Ribbon School in Mecklenburg County that closed in a consolidation. She was one of 22 teachers across the state to be chosen a Distinguished Title I Teacher in 2005; was nominated by her principal in 2004 for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching; and was listed in Who's Who Among Teachers from 2004 through 2006.

"I credit the late Mr. Danny M. Cameron, principal of Buckhorn Elementary, and Mrs. Nan Alga as being very influential in my teaching career," Johnson said.

In recent activities at her school, Johnson organized a webinar on reading fluency presented by Tim Rasinski for faculty, led a mini-workshop to present reading strategies from the Roanoke Reading Conference, and presented strategies to faculty based on presentations from the Rural and Low Income Symposium Conference in Roanoke. She has served as lead teacher for summer school and has presented workshops on test-taking strategies at Buckhorn and LaCrosse Elementary schools.

"Mrs. Johnson's passion for teaching and learning is immediately obvious upon meeting her," said Nan Alga. "She is a true example of a hard-working, dedicated individual who aspires to make a difference in a child's life and ultimately inspires all who come to know her."

Dr. Katherine Wiesendanger, professor of education, was one of Johnson's professors at Longwood and has visited her classroom. "Rachel is a remarkable teacher," said Wiesendanger, a reading specialist. "She understands the literacy process and what each child needs to be successful. Her high expectations and firm belief that she can make a difference in these children's lives result in high student achievement. Although her school may have limited resources and many of its students are high-needs children, there is no limit to Rachel's patience, literacy knowledge, understanding and willingness to give of herself."

Johnson is a member of the Southside Council of Reading Educators, Virginia State Reading Association, International Reading Association, and the Longwood chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, an international honor society in education.

"I want to thank four very special professors of mine at Longwood: Dr. Jeannine Perry, Dr. Gretchen Braun, Dr. Wiesendanger and Tammy Slater," Johnson said. "Without them, this award would not have been possible."

Johnson, who lives in Chase City, is married to Ivory Michael Johnson, a Mecklenburg County correctional officer. They have two children: April Dawn, an Old Dominion University graduate who is in the master's degree program in clinical research at Campbell University, and Dustin LaMar, in his first year at Southside Virginia Community College, who plans to transfer to Longwood or ODU and study sports medicine.