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Know Your Pelicans

Meet Monika Johnston

History Department Chair

Know Your Pelicans

What is your favorite thing about Packer?

It's too difficult to choose one thing. I love that Packer is incredibly generous and supportive of adult learning and professional growth. Through mechanisms like the in-house TALL Tuesday/Teacher Growth program and professional development grants, teachers have an opportunity to reflect on practice and access the resources they need to support our students.

I am also in awe of our students. Their energy, motivation, and sense of agency are an inspiration to me as both a teacher and a life-long learner.

Describe a favorite or memorable moment in your classroom at Packer.

Seeing the look on my Middle School students' faces the first time they heard me do my "witch laugh" — and then all of us falling out in laughter together after they recovered from the shock — probably tops the list.

Name a book/artwork/piece of music that changed your life and explain how.

One book that made a powerful impression on me, and is still among my favorites, is Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. The first time I read it, I was in college and developing a more nuanced awareness of how I had to negotiate my identity through constructs of race, gender, and a myriad of other things that I couldn't control. The book resonated with me at a deep level then, and when I re-read it, it always serves to remind me that the struggle to be an authentic human being in an unjust, absurd world is both universal and particular.

What is something that most Packer people wouldn't know about you?

When I was in kindergarten, I participated in a PSA commercial which asked children from my neighborhood what they wanted to be when they grew up. I answered, "A Lady in the United States Army." Consequently, I was invited to the U.S Military Academy at West Point where I spent the day with members of the Women's Army Corps, was presented with a Pallas Athena medallion, and ate a "Sloppy Joe" lunch (in my honor) with the cadets.

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