April Johnson of Tuckaseegee Elementary has been named the 2018 Teacher of the Year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Joseph Little of Vance High was named the 2018 Teacher Assistant of the Year. The awards were announced at a ceremony at Butler High School on May 9.
Johnson, an art teacher, attended Winston-Salem State University where she earned a degree in arts education. She worked for the Winston-Salem-Forsyth County school district and a charter school before joining CMS in 2016.
Her connection to Tuckaseegee, however, goes back to childhood. She attended Tuckaseegee in fourth and fifth grades. In middle school, Johnson struggled with academics and behavior. She was assigned to the district's alternative school for her ninth-grade year. There wasn't a designated art class, but there was an art room where she started spending more and more time. "Art saved me," she said. "I started splashing the paint around and it just felt right. Something clicked. Art is what turned me around."
Johnson thinks of art as a great equalizer for students. "Everyone can do something," she said. "Art allows them to reinvent themselves and do things they don't even realize they are capable of doing."
Johnson received $1,500 from signature sponsor Charles G. Monnett III & Associates, a one-year lease on a new car from Keffer Volkswagen and classroom supplies from Classroom Central.
Learn more about Johnson here.
Little works at Vance High and received $750 from Monnett & Associates and classroom supplies from Classroom Central.
After 18 years of owning a child-care center, he decided he needed a change of pace. So he decided to get back to his roots: working at a school. "I wanted to get back into the school setting and being a teacher assistant was the best way to go for me," he said.
Little is from Albemarle, NC. He attended Winston-Salem State University. After graduating, he became a special education teacher in Davie County Schools. He and his wife later opened a day care center. He joined CMS in January 2017.
"On my first day at Vance, I was like, 'Wow, this is different!' It was a challenge at first, but I used a lot of what I already knew," he said.
Little is considering renewing his teaching license and returning to special education. Read more about him here.