Noyce Scholar Profile
April Michelle Johnson
Undergraduate major or graduate field of study: B.S., Biology, M.A.T., Science Education
Subject area(s) and grade level teaching focus: Biology, grades 9-12
Category of scholarship/fellowship:
Noyce Teaching Fellow
Name of Noyce institution:
University of Georgia
Current academic or teaching status:
I am in my second semester of graduate study. I have been a TA, substitute teacher, and tutored since 2006.
School and school district:
Field experience-Madison County High School, Danielsville, GA; Madison County School District
I was born and raised in Dalton, Georgia, and I grew up in the Dalton Public School system. With a family of teachers (my mother, my grandmother, and various other relatives), I had convinced myself that I would take a different path in my career. I found my interest in the sciences, and I attended Brenau University and majored in Biology. However, I kept being led towards a teaching path because of my college experiences as a teaching assistant and a tutor, and I began to realize my talent and enjoyment of helping others understand a subject for which I was passionate. Upon my undergraduate graduation, I was uncertain of my career path. I began working as a volunteer at a local hospital and working as a substitute teacher to help me gain more work experience. I found myself wanting to become a teacher, so I decided to begin my graduate career at the University of Georgia to become a science educator.
Why do you want to teach:
I want to teach because I want to make a difference. I have discovered my passion for science as well as my passion for teaching as both an undergraduate and graduate student. I found a talent in these areas, and I want to make the most of my abilities by becoming a teacher. I have had my fair share of great teachers, and I look up to these individuals because of not only what they taught me, but how they taught me and helped me grow as a student and a person. I hope to become one such teacher and help guide my students into a better understanding of science as well as help mold their lives for the better.
Describe a memorable teaching experience:
As a tutor at Brenau University, I had the opportunity to work with many different types of students. I remember tutoring a non-traditional student who was returning to school to obtain her degree after a number of years working in her field of interest. Her degree required a general biology course, and she was very lost in her studies within this topic. She came to me after having attending class for several weeks, and I asked her where she was having the most trouble. She just gave me a helpless look and said “everything.” She lacked the basic fundamentals of biology to comprehend almost all of the content from the course up to that point, beginning with the understanding of the cell. I took a deep breath and began with the first chapter, walking through each term and how terms related to each other. I could see tiny “light bulb” moments occur throughout this tutoring session, and I could begin to feel some of her relief as her understanding became stronger. I tutored her many more times to broaden and strengthen her understanding, and each time we met, I could see her confidence and knowledge of the subject grow. After her final exam, she returned to let me know how she did, and I was so proud. This experience helped me confirm my ability and passion for teaching. I loved that I was able to not only teach her the material, but help her become more confident in her abilities as a student.
What does the Noyce program mean to you:
The Noyce program has been such a great opportunity for me. Through its financial support, I have been able to pursue a graduate degree, something that I have always valued and wanted to do. With the aid of the Noyce scholarship, I am able to pursue my passion as well as take a path towards making a difference with my teaching career.