Educator of the week

Michael Johnson 
Hollenbeck Middle School

Los Angeles Unified School District
History Teacher / Technology Coordinator

Favorite Subjects: Digital Editing and Photography

An inspirational, tech-savvy educator that enjoys pushing his students to their creative boundaries – are just some of the qualities that describe Mr. Michael A. Johnson. Now entering his 18th year as a History Teacher at Hollenbeck Middle School in the community of Boyle Heights, Mr. Johnson understands the importance of preparing our students for the future technical workforce.

A native of New Orleans, LA., Michael experienced first-hand the dedication required to overcome the odds of growing up in an underserved community. He was told by several educators that he was not smart enough to attend college, but he did not allow that to discourage him. Despite these experiences, he was able to find inspiration from his 4th grade teacher, Ms. Sampson, who taught him that if he put his mind to it – he could compete with anyone in the world! In high school, his American History teacher, Mr. Davis, taught him the importance of developing his own ideas and perspectives by asking questions that facilitate learning. It was this curiosity paired with the motivation from his brothers Gerard and Warren who taught him about computers, that ultimately sparked a passion for learning and Mr. Johnson never looked back! After graduating high school, he attended the University of New Orleans, eventually receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, LA.

With a strong foundation under his belt, Mr. Johnson traveled west and found a home at Hollenbeck Middle School where he inspires the future generation of bright young minds using himself as a key example – if he could overcome the odds, so could they! He became a champion of Great Minds in STEM™ and the STEM Up™ Initiative after seeing the type of impact the Viva Technology™ Program had on his students. A former student of his, Madeline Salazar, was motivated to become an engineer after participating in the program, eventually graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and currently working with The Boeing Company in El Segundo, CA.

The level of excitement experienced by his students has encouraged Mr. Johnson to maintain a high level of engagement throughout their middle school career while simultaneously expanding his teaching techniques, “The next day… I changed the way I taught my class!” he proudly exclaims. This year he has set even higher goals for his STEM curriculum. He plans on making his students’ walk down their college pathway more of a run! The ultimate goal is to show them how to “create, demonstrate, plan and dream with their eyes open!”

When he’s not inspiring the youth, his hobbies include spending time with his family, reading, wood working, photography, cheering on his New Orleans Saints and (believe it or not) knife throwing! No need to be alarmed though, he does this in a safe environment and even makes it a family affair!

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