Your Neighbor: Meet Doug Johnson

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2023

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By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

When you grow up in a home with hardworking role models, you always know that the sky is the limit with your potential. Doug Johnson enjoyed the journey of learning how to best use the talents he was given from a young age, always knowing that regardless of the path you choose, passion coupled with hard work would always be the most rewarding.

“My earliest memories of loving to cook start at age eight,” Johnson said. “My mom would teach me the basics in the kitchen, and I just recall enjoying the process. I also enjoyed cooking with her. It was something that her mom taught her, and she was passing down to me. I, too, would get to learn from my grandmother every Sunday when we would share meaningful time together baking.

“It piqued my interest enough that I decided to apply to culinary school at Johnson & Wales University and was accepted.”

Ultimately, Johnson realized that while he loved cooking, and it was a passion of his, he didn’t think turning it into a career would be the best route. Instead, Johnson began exploring working in an electrical company with an influential mentor, Wayne.

“He was a military guy who really demonstrated tough love and a solid work ethic. I respected him tremendously and wanted to always improve,” Johnson said.

Around this time, Johnson became a father to his son, Hunter, who is now 20.

“When you have a child, you want to make sure you work even harder,” Johnson said. “My mother was the head of the human resources department of Summit School around the time Hunter was born. She knew how much I was enjoying working for the electrical company. When an opening came available at Summit that allowed me to parlay my experience from the electrical company over there in the maintenance team, I was excited to apply for it.”

The fit at Summit School for Johnson has been exactly what he had hoped.

“I celebrated my 17th year at Summit this past Oct. 1, and I have enjoyed how my role has evolved and expanded,” said Johnson, who is now the assistant director of facilities and campus safety. “Like all of the schools in our area, we’ve really had to reassess safety on campus, especially after the shooting at Mt. Tabor High School, which really made things more real.”

Johnson has played a pivotal role in securing not only Summit School but also encouraging dialogue in groups that are making decisions for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. For instance, when Johnson helped facilitate adopting the Standard Response Protocol, which was initiated through the I Love You Guys Foundation, two weeks later, so did the rest of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School System.

“What’s helpful about everyone being on the same page is that we’re also using the same vocabulary, there is collaboration with all the first responders, and it’s ever-evolving together,” Johnson said of the program that originated from a senseless school shooting tragedy that took the life of Emily Keyes. Keyes had sent her parents a text message before her passing that said, “I love you guys.”

“Learning how to improve our procedures and continue to keep our kids’ safe takes teamwork,” Johsons said. “I have felt fortunate to really get to know our local first responders.

He is also serving on the Police Chief’s Community Engagement Committee, which allows him to collaborate with 20 others who serve as a liaison between the police chief and the community.

“We meet monthly and then with (Winston-Salem) Chief (William) Penn quarterly to go over tactics,” Johnson said. Chief Penn recently revealed the importance of this committee in a news conference.

“We’ve really tried to cover all of our bases to make sure that we are on top of things, including meeting with a secret service agent and the top security member at Atrium Wake Forest Baptist Health,” Johnson said. “They helped train all our maintenance and security staff.”

Johnson’s hard work has not gone unnoticed.

“I always appreciate when parents take the time to tell me how much safer they feel on campus,” Johnson said. “I now have a daughter, Georgia (12), on campus, so I know exactly how they feel about wanting to keep their children safe. It’s of utmost importance.”

Johnson’s role also includes being head of transportation, which allows him to drive the students to various sporting events.

“It was especially fun this year because I got to drive the girls field hockey team to all of their matches,” Johnson said. “They went undefeated this year, which was especially fun to watch. Now, both of my kids have had an undefeated sports season at Summit.”

When not working or attending Georgia’s games, Johnson likes to spend time hiking with his wife, Casey.

“She and I love to hike at Stone Mountain Park, where we got engaged and married,” Johnson said. “She enjoys being a foodie like me and staying active. It’s one way we like to recharge and connect. There are so many fun places to eat downtown or catch some good local music.”

Johnson has also taken advantage of a Muay Thai gym that has opened up under Chris Nifong.

“I do it about three times a week for an hour,” Johnson said. “I had discovered it because Chris was teaching lifetime sports programs for our kids at the YMCA when our athletic center was being built. He’s a globally recognized instructor that was the first Muay Thai instructor to fight at the Garden in New York City, so he really knows his stuff.

“The group of people that go to the gym have all become like family. Everyone checks their egos at the door and encourages one another. It has been a great place to decompress and exercise. In a typical hour, I can burn about 1,000 calories.”

Going from level 0 to level 1 in just three months has inspired Johnson to continue to keep working hard.

“Much like I learned growing up, it’s good to challenge yourself and also continue to find things you love doing,” Johnson said. “I hope my kids see that lesson, too, as they continue to grow up.”