Getting to Know Mr. James Johnson, Middle School English Faculty

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James Johnson is a Middle School English teacher, pictured here with students after a school theatre production.

Each week through our Faculty Spotlight series, we invite our community members to get to know Gulliver Prep teachers across every division. Last week, we introduced Lower School’s Mrs. Batista, and this week, our Faculty Spotlight features Mr. James Johnson, Middle School English Faculty. Read on to learn more!

Q: How long have you been at Gulliver? What brought you to our school?

A: This is my ninth year at Gulliver. One of the things that brought me to Gulliver is also the thing that keeps me here. It is the progressive mindset that the school has. They give teachers every opportunity to advance their teaching methods to reach our ever-changing student population, and they push us to use those opportunities. Their focus is always on giving the students the best opportunity to learn that they can possibly get.  

Q: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you? 

A: I dabbled in filmmaking before I started teaching. My best friend went to film school, and I was always hanging around, acting, and otherwise helping on set. Right after college, we even managed to shoot and edit a feature-length film on our own. It wasn’t exactly Oscar-worthy, but it was a great experience.  

Q: What is the Happier Curriculum and why is it important for Middle School students?

A: The idea behind the Happier Curriculum is to help students achieve lasting happiness by developing the different aspects of “whole-being.” These aspects are spiritual, physical, intellectual, relational, and emotional well-being. The methods are rooted in the area of positive psychology. We all want our students to be successful, but we are teaching them that it is happiness that leads to success, not the other way around.  

Q: How did you discover your passion for teaching and literature/writing?

A: I was not a very good student in school, not because of a lack of ability, but because of a lack of drive. When I reached seventh grade, I had a teacher that showed me what passion was. He showed me the wonders that existed in great pieces of literature and helped me find an outlet for my voice in writing. He made me feel good about being in class and doing my work. All I am trying to do every day is to try my best to do that for my students.  

Q: What are your goals for this school year?

A: I want to give my students the feeling that, in these crazy times, there is something they can count on staying the same. They are going to be in my class, and I am going to give them the opportunity to laugh, think, and grow.  

 

Rapid fire!

Favorite time of year: Winter

Last series you binged: “The Umbrella Academy” 

One thing you learned during quarantine: Going five months without live sports to watch is hard…

Last article you read: A Dan Le Batard article in the Miami Herald about social activism in sports.  

Favorite recipe you discovered during quarantine: I don’t cook or bake, but my wife learned how to make something that tastes just like the Hershey’s Sundae Pie that they sell at Burger King!