- Nina Johnson
Program / Year
Master of Arts in Teaching ’18
Secondary English Language Arts
What led you to enroll at Lewis & Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling?
A friendly and inviting admissions process, as well as holding Info Sessions over the internet.
Who or what inspired you to pursue your chosen field of study?
I have always loved working with kids. Being a much older brother was the first experience I had with what it means to be a role model. I began exploring opportunities to grow this interest becoming a camp counselor, tutoring at schools, and taking a job at a homeless youth organization. I was also inspired to become a teacher by two of my professors. While they had distinctive styles, they were equally effective in inspiring a love of literature, and built my love of learning. I want to do for my students who those professors did for me.
What does social justice mean to you?
Social justice for me begins with an acknowledgment that there are problems in our society (racial, SES, etc.) and that we do not in fact live in a country where everyone is equal. Once a person has accepted that, they become more aware of the circumstances that have led to their successes and failures (privilege). From there, work can be done in order to combat the systemic oppression that exists in our world. Social justice means working against the institutions created to keep some portions of the population down, and working to inform others that those institutions exist. That work is social justice.
How do you hope to apply your social justice education in your chosen career?
I hope to bring social justice education into my career by talking about it frankly with my students. As an ELA teacher, I am able to use a diverse range of authors and texts, and break out of the traditional white male-dominated Western Canon so that, in an increasingly diverse public school setting, all of my students can feel represented in the materials that we study.
Where have you been working/interning as a student, and what does that work entail?
I have been working at Wilson High School in Hillsdale, just down the road from LC. Right now, I am lead teacher for four sections of 9th grade English, so I can usually be found at Wilson teaching a mini-lesson or working one on one with one of my students.
What is the most fun part of your program?
What is the hardest part of your program?
In this program, I wear many hats. I am a student, I am a teacher, and I have my own life outside of all of that. It has been hard, but vital, to learn to balance those things.
How would you describe your graduate school experience in one sentence?
What a whirlwind.
Who has been your most influential professor, and why?
Lina Darwich always keeps it real.
What career will you be pursuing after graduation? Did you intend for this to be your career path when you enrolled?
I am currently pursuing high school ELA jobs. This is what I wanted going in, and that has not changed.
Describe an "ah-ha" or "right-turn" moment you have experienced here - a time when your perspective, opinion, outlook, or goals changed suddenly due to a specific experience.
My time at Lewis and Clark has allowed to me learn to acknowledge my white, male privilege. The intense focus on social justice has showed me how important it is for me to be aware of my own privilege, and to think about how it affects my life and my decision making, especially in the classroom.
What do you think of Portland?
I love Portland! It has been great to live here and get to know the city.
Anything else you would like to add about your family, background, plans, etc.?
This summer, I will be moving to Madison, WI. I am currently on the job hunt there.