PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Life has plenty of twists and turns. Some of its challenges are easier than others, but it’s all about being able to handle what’s thrown at you.
Aside from the standard third grade curriculum our Teacher of the Week, Beth Johnson, teaches her third grade students how to be strong and courageous individuals. It’s a lesson she is now applying to her personal life as well.
Mrs. Johnson’s day has started the same for nearly three decades at Penderlea. As her students file into the classroom, each one of them receives a hug.
“I chase them down if they don’t come by,” said Johnson.
Even though this year’s group has one student who attempts to escape his teacher’s daily embrace, the 26-year veteran of the classroom thinks her pupils are just perfect.
“I love the way they think. I love the way they act. I like how hard they work,” said Johnson as she smiled ear-to-ear. “My favorite part of third grade is when they fight over books.”
These routine school days changed last April for Mrs. Johnson when she started a fight of her own. Last spring she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“One week everything is just normal and the next week, and thing you know you’re facing chemotherapy, and radiation. You just want to make sure you live. It’s like ‘Wow’,” she said.
Even cancer cannot keep Mrs. Johnson away from her students though. While she undergoes chemotherapy treatments a substitute takes over her lesson plans.
“Looking forward to these little faces made me want to come back. It makes me push through,” said Johnson.
Using her students as happy thoughts, Mrs. Johnson pushes through tough times and comes back to the head of the class in between treatment cycles.
“I tell the students, I said ‘I’m going to be brave. You be brave.’ I mean what choice is there? We’re going to be brave,” said Johnson.
Mrs. Johnson says after chemotherapy she has a “good prognosis” and is optimistic for what the future holds.