Morgan Johnson went to college to pursue a degree in elementary education. By the time she actually graduated this past May, that plan had changed.

Yes, she still earned a teaching degree, but it was a much more specified program – physical education.

“During my sophomore year I was taking a physical education class for elementary school teachers,” said Johnson. “That is when I decided what I really wanted to do. I wanted to see different kids during the day, and I wanted to be active. I fell in love with physical education and changed my major.”

Now Johnson is teaching physical education to Redwood Valley Middle School students and said she looks forward to the chance to come to school every day.

The Redwood Valley gym is a familiar one for Johnson, but it was under different circumstances that she was there in her past. Having attended high school in Worthington, Johnson competed against the Cardinals.

“They were a rival school,” she said, admitting at first when she applied to teach in Redwood Falls she did not know how she would feel about the school. “When I came for the interview I really felt at home. The people were all so personable. I love being here.”

Students who come to Johnson’s physical education classes are being exposed to a variety of activities, including sports that are being played competitively through the school’s extra-curricular program as well as some games students have never played.

“There may be a student who is thinking about playing volleyball but has never tried it,” said Johnson.

Now that student can play it in a much less formal setting and determine if it is something they like and might want to pursue further outside of phy-ed. 

The goal, said Johnson, is to help the students find an activity they enjoy and can do outside of school and for the rest of their lives.

“I want to help them find ways to stay active,” said Johnson, adding it is all about helping them stay in shape and find something they like to do to maintain their physical health.

In addition to teaching all of the students in Grades 5-8, Johnson is also teaching the adaptive physical education program for all of the school’s students. Through what is known as the DAPE program, Johnson has the opportunity to help students who may just need a little help extra learning to balance or are working on their motor skills.

“I enjoy seeing the students as they progress and meet their goal,” said Johnson. “For me it is about putting a smile on their face and seeing that light bulb come on when they have accomplished something. That then becomes a big accomplishment for me.”

Education, said Johnson, runs in the family, as her mom works in a school media center and she has lots of aunts, cousins and other extended family who are teachers, too. Her dad, who works at the YMCA in Worthington is also very invested in the lives of youth.

For Johnson, teaching was something that made sense for her. She learned while still in high school serving as a camp counselor and helping out with programs at the YMCA that she really enjoyed being around kids.

Being able to teach at the middle-school level has been ideal for Johnson, as she said those students are at an age where they are becoming adults but still have that kid in them who likes to have fun.

The daughter of Andy and Jayne Johnson said she enjoys spending time with her family, and likes to stay active as much as she can. In her life outside of school Johnson is providing the example of what she wants to see in each student who walks into the gym.