- Nina Johnson
Program / Year
Master of Arts in Teaching, ’18
What led you to enroll at Lewis & Clark's Graduate School of Education and Counseling?
I chose to dedicate myself to education at a point during the year when many schools had finished enrolling for the 2017/18 year, but Lewis & Clark was still accepting candidates and it was close enough to where my parents lived - score!
Who or what inspired you to pursue your chosen field of study?
Initially it was the thrill of teaching something to someone, the “oh I get it now!” noise that others would make. I simply loved to help people get a new concept, and it helped that I also enjoyed public speaking, leading, and being creative.
What does social justice mean to you?
Breaking down the main narrative that we as an American society become familiar with. We need to be careful in inspecting whose voices are being heard the most and whose are being left out.
How do you hope to apply your social justice education in your chosen career?
I hope to bring more awareness to our own biases and thoughts. I hope to help my students to become more familiar with who they are and what they believe in. I want my students to be comfortable in sharing their thoughts and ideas around their own race and identity without feeling disparaged or compromised by other adults or peers.
Where have you been working/interning as a student, and what does that work entail?
I have been interning at an elementary school in West Linn called Willamette Primary. I’ve been student teaching fifth grade there. I’ve written lesson plans, taught, and mentored 27 ten-year-olds for the academic school year. I’ve been very busy!
What is the most fun part of your program?
You can’t really beat the summer sun! Learning, playing and growing with a class of your peers in advancing your own vocation.
What is the hardest part of your program?
This may be cliche, but saying goodbye, especially to my professors who have nurtured and mentored us all dearly.
How would you describe your graduate school experience in one sentence?
Rapid growth with intensive learning!
Who has been your most influential professor, and why?
Dr. Linda Griffin - she has lead by example. She has transformed what I believe a teacher does or should do - she’s more like a captain of a great ship or the leader of a grand orchestra. She’s larger than life and kinder than necessary.
What is a unique perspective you bring to your cohort?
I’m quite optimistic and playful, and I have a strong science and math background.
What career will you be pursuing after graduation? Did you intend for this to be your career path when you enrolled?
I will be pursuing elementary school education! I may wish to get a PhD someday in education, but I want to be crystal clear in my purpose and intent in doing so before I begin that journey.
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.
Quite honestly these moments happened every hour I paid attention in class! If I had to pick just one‚ it would be during the summer when we are all studying our own culture, race, and identity. I went from dismissive about the idea of my own race being important in education to an “ah-ha moment” when I discovered that knowing myself better, and being more comfortable with who I am was pivotal for my own education and growth.
What do you think of Portland?
It’s a wonderful, thriving city and a great place to live. Yes, Portland has some growing pains but we’re moving towards a brighter tomorrow.
Anything else you would like to add about your family, background, plans, etc.?
Lewis and Clark’s training in education has forever made a positive and permanent impact on my education and profession. Many years down the road you may step in my classroom and you will likely find social justice work and cultural identity pieces on the walls.