Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson

Year of Graduation: 2016

Major(s): Chemistry

Minor(s): Secondary Education 

Current Position: Chemistry Teacher, West Contra Costa Unified School District, Richmond, CA


Please give a brief description of your current position:

I am a 10th-12th grade chemistry teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Richmond, CA. As a teacher, I spend my days writing curriculum, planning lessons, designing and implementing labs, assessing students’ work, and building relationships with staff and students in the Kennedy community. I especially love time outside of class to get to know the kids at events such as basketball games, award nights, and performances.

What path did you follow to get to your current position?

Professionally, I started my college career as a pre-med student with the goal of becoming a doctor. After hospital internships and a year of coursework, I realized healthcare was not for me. I took an Intro to Education class, realized I loved school too much, and changed plans. Thus, I transferred schools (to St. Ben’s), changed my major to chemistry, and added a secondary education minor.

Personally, I have always loved school and fully believe in the power of education. I started working with kids and traveling more, exposing myself to a variety of people and cultures. I went on an ABE trip as a sophomore at St. Ben’s and decided that my dream was to travel and teach in an urban high school upon graduation.

What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?

If your heart is in it, you are already an excellent teacher. Don’t worry about the pay, the hours, or the stress; teaching is the greatest reward!

What skills are important in your field?

Communication and empathy are the most important skills for me in this field. The need to effectively communicate and to work well with teachers, administrators, and students is the key to finding success teaching.

What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your position?

The best part about teaching is seeing “my kids” grow and succeed. My students become part of my life, and I struggle, learn, and grow with them every single day.

Most challenging?

The most challenging part about teaching is reaching every single student as powerfully as I would like to.

What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?

Being part of a community centered on the Benedictine values has been the single most valuable experience in preparation for this career. To learn how to treat others goes a long way in a teaching career. Studying abroad and going on ABE trips has given me experiences with all different kinds of people. Finally, the education department at CSB/SJU is incredible at preparing new teachers for a love of teaching.

(June 2017)