For Steve Johnson, leadership is about helping others to grow. That has been his guiding principle in a 24-year military career, and now in the education field.
The retired Army officer is in his sixth year of teaching, navigating the challenges of distance learning.
Johnson, 51, a native of Biloxi, MS., enlisted in the U.S. Army after high school, serving almost two years as an enlisted soldier. He received a Green To Go (Quality Enrichment Program) Scholarship, and was released from active duty to attend Jackson State University in Jackson, MS, where he earned a computer science degree, and a commission as a second lieutenant. After college, he returned to the Army where he served as a field artillery officer for the next 12 years. He spent the last 5 years of his military career as Space Operations Officer for the Space Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Command, retiring as a major.
Johnson decided to enter the education field after retirement to continue to give back to his community. After a year and a half as an instructional aide, he completed an alternative certification course and received his teacher’s certification. He first taught second and fourth grades at Martin Walker Elementary School in Copperas Cove, and is now an all-inclusive fourth grade teacher at Alice W. Douse Elementary School in Killeen.
“I enjoy teaching and seeing the students when they come in at the beginning of the year, and helping them get back into the rhythm of learning,” Johnson said. “By the end of the year, you are able notice how the student has grown academically.”
This year, due to COVID-19, academic instruction has been through virtual learning and in person instruction.
Although teachers are available to answer questions online or by phone, Johnson feels the personal touch “is definitely missed.”
“I believe distance learning will be the wave of the future, but I also understand that people need a physical building for students who may need additional support,” he said. “Some of that support is very challenging to provide over the internet.”
Outside of the classroom, Johnson has been an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity for nearly18 years, and is an active member of the local chapter, Kappa Sigma Lambda.
The chapter mentors young men with programs like Project Alpha and the MLK Oratorical Contest.
“We sponsor scholarships, help raise money for the March of Dimes, and groom students (9 th -12 th graders) to participate in our annual oratorical contest where winners receive monetary awards and trophies.”
Johnson also serves as a deputy voter registrar for Bell and Travis Counties, encouraging residents to register to vote, confirm their voter status, and sharing information on voter precinct locations.
He volunteers at the Killeen Food Care Center by helping restock their shelves, and passing out food to needy families. He is also a member of the NAACP and his local church.
He has a 22-year-old son who lives with him in Killeen.
Johnson sums up his philosophy with a quote from educator and author Charles H. Wesley: “Leadership is a growth – a growth for the leader and a growth for the followers. The true leader grows himself and assists others to grow to be leaders themselves.”