La Tisha Johnson

La Tisha Johnson, center, accepts a ceremonial check for $500 from Trinity Falls’ Natalie Rosser. Principal Dr. Mitch Curry was in on the surprise award, which happened at the end of a teacher celebration held prior to school starting.

Students in the AVID college and career readiness program at Scott Morgan Johnson Middle School in McKinney will be getting a boost this year, thanks to a $500 donation from Trinity Falls.

La Tisha Johnson, seventh- and eighth-grade AVID teacher at the school, was awarded $500 to use for her classroom through Trinity Falls’ MISD Staff Spotlight campaign. The quarterly campaign takes nominations from residents of Trinity Falls for deserving teachers or staff members at the three schools serving the McKinney-area community: Press Elementary, Scott Morgan Johnson Middle School and McKinney North High School.

Trinity Falls General Manager Robert Ditthardt says supporting schools is a win-win for all involved.

Resident Deidra Golphin nominated Johnson for the award saying that she was “an absolute godsend” in helping her daughter adjust to her new school after moving from Oklahoma.

“She truly has the heart of a teacher and treats each student as if they were her own child,” Golphin wrote when nominating Johnson. “Her smile and positive attitude are contagious and help students get through the toughest of days.”

Johnson began teaching in 1998 and has been at Scott Morgan Johnson Middle School for 12 years. She has spent her entire career teaching middle school students.

“I love this age group,” she said. “They are still children but are slowly branching out into young adulthood.

“Middle school was tough for me personally. My mother was sick while I was in sixth grade and then passed away the following year, so it was really tough. That sticks with me and has created a soft spot in my heart for these students.”

Johnson said building relationships is the key to being a successful teacher.

“Before I can teach my curriculum, I need to learn their hearts,” she said. “Socio-economics don’t matter — everyone is an individual.”

Even before she learned of the gift from Trinity Falls, Johnson said her Amazon cart was full with posters and other items emphasizing potential careers open to students.

“There’s a lot of emphasis on college readiness, but college isn’t for everyone,” she said. “I worry that kids are hearing college is the only way and that’s just not true.”

In addition to the classroom items, she said she may use some of the funds to pay for dinner during Family Nights for her classes in order to encourage parent participation.

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