'TUESDAY, MAY 1,2001 MAKING A DIFFERENCE 11. "She always has that extra 10 minutes for students." - Laura Mioton 'Johnson embraces student Stacey Schrag In the hall at Brown Mackle. It was Schrag's last day at the college with Johnson as her teacher. A lesson in motivation Brown Mackie professor focuses on improving lives of her adult students students get personal attention from Johnson. Above, she helps student James Curtis with accounting. Johnson even gives her home phone number to students who need help outside of class, said Laura Mioton, director of student service at Brown AAackle. PHOTO STORY BY ZACH LONG he face of Verna Mae Johnson turned red as one of her former students told a story about her. Laughing quietly to herself, Johnson listened to the story's conclusion and verified it. ABOVE: Johnson has the reputation of being a teacher who's always Vjrtiiing to help. LEFT: Verna Mae Johnson poses with her former student, Laura Mioton, in front of The Brown Mackle College In Sallna. Mioton was a waitress at the Holiday Inn before starting at the college. She decided to she needed more education to get a better Job. The student had just revealed that the only vifay to distract Johnson from teaching was to ask about her cats. The students knew a detailed story was sure to follow. During her 40-plus years of teaching at The Brown Mackie College, Johnson has befriended hundreds of students. It seems that each has a story to tell about how Johnson has been a motivator for those struggling through rough times. "She was always, always willing to help," said former student Donna Arnold, now in the accounting department at Telephone Sales and Service in Salina. Arnold went back to school at 36 so she could find a better job. "I know that she helped me a lot," Arnold said. "There were a lot of people who would have never made it through without her help." Johnson has taught at Brown Mackie since September 1960, always focusing on adult occupational therapy. She said that when she started, the school was beginning to enroll increasing numbers of adult students who had been in the workforce and were coming back for more education. "I just thought that it was best to help the This pendant commemorates 15 years of service to Brown Mackie. adult students," she said. Johnson's students have succeeded in a variety of positions, from bank tellers to private business owners. At Brown Mackie, there are seven employees who were Johnson's students. Laura Mioton, director of student services at Brown Mackie, was a waitress at the Holiday Inn when she noticed a newspaper ad about the college. The ad asked "Are you happy with your life?" Mioton decided the answer was , no. She immediately took action, quitting her job on the spot and enrolling at Brown Mackie. Now she holds two college degrees and gets to work with her former teacher every day "Miss I is one of those women who is very consistent," Mioton said, "She always has a smiley face and a story to tell. She always has that 10 extra minutes for students." Mioton said Johnson gave her home number to students and spent hours on the phone, offering guidance. "I would be at home frustrated with my accounting, and I would call her," Mioton said. "We would go over it and she would help me. There are not a lot of teachers that tell you from the very first, 'Give mc a call, I'm here to help you,' and then follow through with it. She is definitely a career teacher." After reaching the 40-year mark at Brown Mackie, Johnson tried to retire, but she just couldn't stand it. "I was home for a few months and 1 just had to go back. The students keep me young."
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