Name: Marko J. Johnson
Role: Teacher and coach
School: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, Beaumont Independent School District
Located: Beaumont, Texas
Number years teaching: I have been teaching for 19 years now.
What do you teach and to what grade(s)?
Career technical education to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders
Why do you like what you teach?
I honestly love teaching because it gives me the opportunity to make life better for mankind one class at a time. I take pride in understanding that to give a child an education is to give the world a chance to be greater and make life better for people I have never and will never meet. I love teaching because my words will reach many more people than I ever could through my students. I have seen so many of my students do things they never thought possible because of something I have taught them. That lets me know I’m doing the job I was put here to do.
Did you always want to be a teacher?
I was originally assigned a spot into the Naval Academy, but I was only 17 and would not make my 18th birthday in time. My mom would not sign, so I started school for criminal justice. I never thought I would teach until my mother, who was a teacher, asked me to come talk to the kids at her school one day while in school.
Why do you like to teach with hands-on products?
I started teaching Pre-K and taught it for seven years. Watching those kids manipulate things and understand learning happens through all senses was awesome. As I moved up within the different grade levels, it dawned on me that students are missing the understanding of things the way my mother taught us through helping her cook, take things apart, sort items, and build things ourselves. Through hands-on learning, you make all other subjects complete and show the importance of the other subjects because you must use that knowledge to create in my class. Also many concepts become concrete through hands-on learning.
How long have you been using Pitsco Education products?
I have been using Pitsco products for five years now.
What is your favorite Pitsco Education product and why?
My favorite products to use are the rockets and CO2 vehicles. I like these because one of the hardest things for students now is to follow a step-by-step process due to technology increases. The rocket packs allow the students to get that concept because I have them use the step-by-step process in the book to create the rocket. We fly it one time, then they come back and look at reasons why it flew the way it did, then they have the opportunity to fix and even brainstorm ways to make it fly better. The dragsters allow for some of the same aspects, except they must use different measurement requirements to build it. To make a long story short, it allows them to know it is OK to fail. Just research why and then make it better the next time. Just think about middle school kids feeling confident that they can use words like airframe, combustion, propulsion, igniter, fuse, and so forth. It builds great confidence within the student who really needs to know he or she can learn.
What's your greatest teaching accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment was winning Texas Technology Student Association State Middle School Championship and the year before coming in second in the same contest, but my student was the top student in the state and came home with the middle school scholarship. The reason these are my greatest accomplishments is because the students that went to these contests and won these accolades ended up earning me the title “the teacher who can work with any student” because the teams had 10 students of different grade levels, educational abilities, ethnicities, and economic statuses. For me, it proves we can all be successful learning and loving together, because we cannot live together unless we love each other together.