Making learning fun for her students is Marva Johnson’s goal every day that she walks into her pre-K classroom at Cluster Springs Elementary School.

“They need a positive place to grow and learn,” Johnson says.

Johnson recently was named Teacher of the Year for Halifax County Public Schools. The veteran teacher’s career spans more than four decades; she is embarking on her 43rd year of teaching.

“It’s a great honor. I was surprised,” said Johnson, regarding being awarded Teacher of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year. But in the opinion of HCPS Superintendent Dr. Mark Lineburg, no one is more deserving of the honor than Johnson.

“She is just a fantastic teacher and a great person. She is the kind of person who represents the teaching staff at Halifax County Public Schools very well,” Lineburg said. “She’s very congenial. She does the job well, the kids love her, and her classroom is fun.”

Johnson keeps her young students active and promotes hands-on, experiential learning by taking them on field trips. From going to The Prizery to view the exhibits on display to going down the hallway of the school to get a sneak peek at what the older students are learning, Johnson’s students have a chance to experience the world around them while learning at the same time. While Johnson tries to make learning fun, she sets high standards for her students.

“I expect little scholars and most of the time, that’s what I get,” Johnson said. “You believe it and work toward it.”

Johnson is a reading specialist who spends a great deal of time focusing on teaching her students phonetics and basic math skills. She focuses on showing her students that “reading is fun.”

“I teach them all their little brains can hold,” Johnson said.

Along with reading and math, Johnson said she also teaches her students life skills and how to socialize with their peers and with adults.

“I teach them how to behave, how to walk in a straight line, how to socialize,” Johnson said. “It helps them get prepared so they won’t experience those things for the first time in kindergarten. Starting them early is important.”

The experienced teacher also encourages her students to strive to achieve their goals, no matter how lofty they are.

“You can do anything in the world and go anywhere you want to,” Johnson tells her students. “The sky is the limit.”

Johnson began her teaching career as a ninth grade teacher. In 2003, she started teaching pre-K at Turbeville Elementary School. She said she has no plans for retirement anytime soon and cannot think of anything she would rather do than teaching children at a young age and watching them grow up to do great things.

“I just love working with children,” Johnson said. “I enjoy seeing them start in one place and helping them to see the things they can do that they didn’t think they could do.”

Each day, Johnson said she prays about how to best deliver her lesson plans to each child in her classroom. The academic progress and development of each of her students is important to her, and she will continue to pray for each child every day before she steps into her classroom for the remainder of her teaching career.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.