Patrick Johnsen started his 20th school year in Arlington Public Schools this year. No, he hasn’t been teaching that long! Rather, he is a product of Arlington Public Schools, having attended McKinley Elementary, Swanson Middle, and Yorktown High School. Currently, he works as a 6th grade math teacher.
When Mr. Johnsen was a middle school student, he wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do when he grew up
but was sure that it should be something active. He did entertain hopes of going to the NBA, or if that didn’t work out, then maybe to be a coach. When asked how his 12-year-old self would react to what he currently does for a living, Mr. Johnsen said his 12-year-old self wouldn’t be that surprised. He had wanted to coach as a middle school student, and he currently coaches wrestling at Gunston and has previously also coached basketball. What might be a surprise to the 12-year old is that he is teaching math! Mr. Johnsen said as a student he didn’t really push himself in school; he would calculate what the minimum was and just do that much. Plus, he really wouldn’t do homework! He said that there have been some awkward moments at county-wide meetings when he has run into some of his former teachers.
Mr. Johnsen was asked if he were to write a memoir what the title might be. His initial response was “I Can’t Believe I Wrote a Book!” But after a short pause, he added “An Underachieving Student Becomes a Teacher.” The advice he would give in the book and to his 12-year-old self would be, “Push yourself, you probably could get a little better in everything.
”Reflecting on his middle school experience, Mr. Johnsen added that he might bring another layer of compassion and empathy for students, especially the students with disabilities with whom he works. He wants to help students see more in themselves than they may currently see. He can relate to the struggle and has some words of encouragement from someone on the other side of that struggle.
One of the favorite parts of the profession for Mr. Johnsen is seeing the success of students both in and out of class. One recent experience he shared was when a former student came back to tell him that he had passed the Algebra 1 Standard of Learning state assessment. Another favorite part he added is seeing that students do remember you after they have left middle school and knowing that something that happened in middle helped them to be successful in high school.
Something that might surprise you about Mr. Johnsen is that he is an introvert! He’s not a fan of starting conversations with people he doesn’t know, but is totally okay with public speaking to a large crowd!
Who knew? We didn’t, but now we do, and have been able to shine the spotlight on one of the staff members at Gunston Middle School.
(written by Lori Wiggins)