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Hometown Mentor: Radford teacher shares lessons of kindness with students

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:07 AM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - In a time of division in the country, one local teacher is doing all she can to spread messages of love and compassion to her students. It’s one of many reasons WDBJ7 selected Jessica Johnson, a first grade teacher at McHarg Elementary School, as our October Hometown Mentor.

For the past decade, the Christiansburg native has been impacting local students as a teacher. While the current pandemic makes things a bit challenging, Johnson, like her colleagues, has adapted.

“I want children to have that person who loves them," Johnson said. "I want them to know that when they come into my classroom that they have somebody that cares for them, and is invested in them, and loves them deeply.”

The way Johnson approached some of her lessons plans changed a bit following the tragic death of Christiansburg High School student Ashlyn Poole in the summer of 2018. As WDBJ7 reported, Ashlyn’s mother, Melissa, started a campaign called Acts 4 Ash, where people would do random acts of kindness for strangers. It was something Johnson also wanted to incorporate in schools.

“I felt like it was really important that we brought it into the schools and that we teach children how to do random acts of kindness,' she said.

That is exactly what she did, first at Auburn Elementary School, and now at McHarg. Due to the pandemic, this year’s acts of kindness are carried out differently. Johnson’s students wrote positive and uplifting messages for students in other classes, and then presented them. Those students are now tasked with doing the same for other classes.

It is just one way that Johnson goes above and beyond to positively impact young minds in our communities.

“I tell my kids every year that if they don’t leave me with anything, I want them to learn how to be a good person, and a kind person, and just treat people with respect.”

If you know a local teacher, coach or mentor going above and beyond for children in our hometowns, we want to know about them. Click here to nominate them to be the next WDBJ7 Hometown Mentor.

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