Sing it: Johnson is Teacher of Year

Published 11:03 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Austin High School choral director Brian Johnson receives a standing ovation from his students after it was revealed that he was Austin Schools Teacher of the Year Tuesday morning. - Eric Johnson/

Austin High School choir students already know Brian Johnson is a good teacher. That’s why they cheered so loud when he was announced as the 2011 Austin Teacher of the Year.

Johnson was formally announced Tuesday morning to a standing ovation from his Concert Choir class.

“He totally deserves it,” said Breanna Bergstrom, AHS senior. “He’s always got little tidbits of wisdom to share.”

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Johnson came to Austin in 1987 and credits his success as a teacher to his professional relationship with Phil Burkhart, Ellis Middle School band teacher, and other Austin teachers.

“I couldn’t have come to a better place,” Johnson told students.

Johnson doesn’t necessarily do things different from other teachers, but said he finds out about his students and takes an interest in their lives to figure out how they can achieve academic and musical success.

“You know how far you can push them,” Johnson said.

It’s that dedication to students that made him such a respected teacher among staff and students.

“He always gets into his work,” said Hope McAlister, AHS senior.

Luke May agrees. The AHS sophomore said he tried to get into choir last year but didn’t pass the audition. He came to Johnson after school to work on his voice after Johnson told him to audition again. May got into Concert Choir this year.

“He stuck with me the whole way,” May said.

As Austin’s Teacher of the Year, Johnson has a chance to become the 2012 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. He is now a lifetime Teacher of the Year committee member under the Austin Education Association.

“We think the State Teacher of the Year is right here in Austin,” said Cheryl Dunlap, AEA chairperson.