Your Neighbor: Meet Janey Johnson

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2023

By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

During the season of gratitude, Janey Johnson, like many others, is reflecting on what means the most to her.

As one of five children in a military family, Johnson learned early on the strength and security found in the bond of her tight-knit family.

“We moved around quite a bit until I was 12,” Johnson said. “My dad had gone to medical school, and our final move was to the Winston-Salem area. Of course, at that age, starting over as a pre-teen seemed really tough. But it turned out to be a great move and community to grow up in.

I had developed early on a love for dance that was inspired by my older sister, Paula. I thought she was just the coolest, so anything she did, I wanted to do as well. When we moved to North Carolina, I found a studio that had a strong ballet program that I immersed myself in. I also joined competitive cheer for a couple of years, too. If I wasn’t at the studio, I was doing something active, from rollerblading to riding bikes with one of my siblings.”

When Johnson went to Mt. Tabor High School, she joined the cheerleading team in her junior year.

“I enjoyed doing that with my friends,” said the athlete, who was also active in other extracurricular activities, including the National Honor Society. “I participated in their girls’ service club, Spanish club and was an editor in the sports section of the school yearbook.”

When it came time to look for colleges, Johnson recalls her dad’s encouragement to consider in-state schools.

“When we first moved here, my dad had told us how fortunate we were to be in a state that had such quality schools. We took the hint that we should strongly consider them,” Johnson said. “I had really been impressed with North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) architecture program. When my mom and I did a tour there, it was intimidating because I was told that I was behind since I did not have a portfolio created. With my personality type, hearing that I would be behind was daunting.

“My mom had mentioned that I consider teaching because of how much I enjoyed tutoring my younger sister, Millesa, in math when I was growing up.”

The suggestion to consider teaching was well received, and Johnson began her time at NCSU.

“I put my eggs all in one basket because that was the only school that I applied to,” Johnson said.

Fortunately, NCSU not only accepted her but she was offered a spot in the NC Teaching Fellows program. The secondary mathematics education student loved math specifically.

“I love that there is only one right answer. It just makes sense to me,” Johnson said.

After graduating from NCSU, Johnson decided to head back home to the Winston-Salem area to teach.

“I really had enjoyed Raleigh, but with the Wake (County) school system, you don’t find out if you have a job until the beginning of the year. I had been offered a job at Mt. Tabor High School right after graduating, so I took it as a sign to head home,” Johnson said. “I taught math at Mt. Tabor for seven years and really enjoyed it.”

While at Mt. Tabor as a teacher, she also met her future husband, Addison.

“We had mutual friends where we worked that thought we should meet each other,” Johnson said. “We were both from the same area but never knew each other growing up. I had gone back to get my masters in education at the University of South Carolina, so I was gone the entire summer that we got to know each other. We would send messages and talk on the phone, and when I got back in town after completing the program, we went on a date. We have been together ever since.”

With her personal life blooming, Johnson continued to enjoy her career in education.

“A job opened up at Reagan High School in math, and I decided to take it,” Johnson said. “I’ve been there for seven years now, too, teaching Math III, which is like Algebra II when we were in school. I teach both the honors and standard programs. It’s one of my absolute favorite things to teach to students. What I’ve always enjoyed most about teaching is that each day is different. I couldn’t sit at a desk all day and expect the same thing over and over. I also realize that championing my students is important, and it goes a long way for them. There are times where they just need to be seen as a human, and I try to recognize that they know they have someone in their corner. We’ve all had that teacher that made an impact like that, and I want to be that for them, too.”

Johnson also likes how witty and fun high school students are.

“This is a great age to teach, too. The students are sharp and bright, and it’s fun to be sarcastic with them and see their emerging personalities. I feel fortunate to teach really great students,” says Johnson. “One of the main reasons I went to get my masters in education was so that I could learn more teaching strategies to help them too.”

Johnson has also learned first-hand, as a parent herself, the importance of an invested teacher.

“We had our first child, Everett (4), in 2019 and then his sister, Adelyn (10),” Johnson said. “It gave a new perspective to teaching, that’s for sure.

“Addison and I have been so lucky because my mom, “Grammy” has watched all of her grandchildren before they went to school themselves. It’s the greatest gift I have ever been given. And it’s really neat, too, because they get to spend all of that time with her and their cousin, Cal. Everett is now in school himself, so Cal gets to be the older role model for Adelyn. It’s cute to watch their roles change with each other.”

As Johnson appreciates the next generation of their families building new memories, she is grateful that they are all close enough to make that possible.

“I feel so lucky to live close by where we can lean on each other for all of life’s moments,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”