- Union County Public Schools
Prospect Elementary student leads weekly technology class for his peers
On a Tuesday afternoon in February, Prospect Elementary fourth grader Mason Johnson walked into Sheila Nyman’s second grade classroom.
With a laptop tucked under his arm, and his best friend Nate Outen by his side, he turned to the students to make an announcement.
“Ok, everyone. We’re about to get started. Today’s lesson is going to start with a video about the Cyber Five, which are the rules for being safe on the internet,” Mason said confidently, before leading a class of nearly 20 students in a hands-on tutorial of Google Drive and keyboard shortcuts.
Technology, Mason said later as he sat in the media center, is what he has loved for as long as he can remember.
“I’ve been into technology since I was really young, probably since I was about three years old. I didn’t know what technology was actually capable of at the time, so I spent a few years tinkering around with computers,” he said. “From there, I started making custom widgets, changing the Google logo on my screen to say ‘Mason is Awesome’ and things like that.”
As Mason’s passion for all things technology began to grow, Prospect Elementary Principal Dr. Kim Chinnis couldn’t help but to take note of his budding skills.
As a Leader in Me School, Prospect Elementary regularly teaches leadership principles to students and creates a school wide culture of leadership and student empowerment. Students are taught that everyone has the ability to be a leader, create change and lead their own learning.
So after talking with Mason’s parents and teachers, Chinnis found the perfect opportunity to pair his growing leadership skills with his love of technology.
“We didn’t want technology to be a distraction for him, so I said, ‘Let’s talk about how we can channel this in a positive way. I asked him if he’d be interested in sharing what he’s learned with a group of students,” Chinnis said, adding that Mason was required to bring lesson plans to her for approval before he could lead a classes. “It started with him just teaching one second grade class, and then he got a friend involved. They started to teach students in the entire grade level and then it just really snowballed from there.”
In fact, Mason and Nate are now in talks with Chinnis to expand their technology course to third grade students.
When he grows up, Mason said he’d like to do several things including playing professional hockey and working for the military designing weapons. Above all, he aspires to start his own technology company.
But for right now, while’s he’s still in elementary school, Mason is content with bringing his love of technology to his peers.
“It’s really great seeing the younger kids learn new things that Nate and I teach them,” he said. “I don’t get nervous when I’m in front of the classes because I’m doing and talking about what I know best, which is tech.”