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Redhawk Staff Welcomes Senator Johnson

On a Monday after school at the Health Sciences Academy, Redhawk Staff representatives welcomed a special guest, Senator Todd Johnson.

In the small group, HSA@MMS staff voiced a range of questions, comments, and concerns with the Senator. From teacher pay to student needs, health care to veteran teacher pay scales, the conversations provided a fruitful avenue for discussion.

 "I super appreciated the opportunity to sit and talk to him. Mrs. Giddins made the environment warm and welcoming, and Senator Johnson was very receptive and open to hear us," said Ms. Coleen Owens, English Language Arts Teacher and Health Science Academy's Teacher of the Year.

Communication and unification were overriding themes of the meeting. 

"I asked the Senator how teachers can best communicate our needs, as well as how the state plans on helping the Monroe cluster. The Senator said that it’s best for teachers to come together and send a cumulative list of our top priorities," shared Ms. Owens. "He also discussed how our county shines in the state which makes the state believe we don’t need more resources. He is working to show the difference in needs between the west side of the county and the east."

Mrs. Alicia VanHeesch, Mathematics Teacher and EPIC Master Teacher agreed that communication is key. "He mentioned that the communication and message between our legislators and educators is misunderstood which I agree with.  It’s time that we came together because the end goal is meeting the needs of our students." 

Principal Mrs. Kasha Giddins, who arranged the visit shared her reflection, "He was really open, and of course the number one concern right now is salary and benefits. I think he addressed everyone's concerns and gave everyone something to walk away with and chew on. [He shared] that we as educators need to have a united voice in the state and that is one thing we need right now." 

Redhawk staff very much agreed, and expressed gratitude for the visit. "I was very impressed that Senator Johnson reached out to meet with us. Out of 13 years and 2 states, this is the first time it has happened," shared Mrs. VanHeesch.

Senator Johnson serves on the Education/Higher Education Committee, and the Appropriations on Education/Higher Education Committee, along with several others.

As for what teachers wish our elected officials and community could hear more of from educators on the ground?

"I wish they heard the need for more competitive salary. For our students to grow and for education in NC to be top, we need to hire highly qualified teachers," said Ms. Owens. 

For more information on Senator Johnson, visit the North Carolina General Assembly Legislative Website