Thirty-Eight Years of Greatness: Tom Johnson Retires from Teaching

Tom Johnson in 2021 in his home
Tom Johnson in 2021 in his home
Kerry Eggers

Tom Johnson is a well-recognized varsity basketball coach and outstanding English teacher, but after 38 years, Johnson will be concluding his teaching career at Sam Barlow High School. 

Johnson has pretty much always known he wanted to be a teacher. From fifth grade, he knew this was what he wanted to do. “I had some really good role models in grade school and high school,” says Johnson. Having good role models is an important part of shaping who you become. 

Although Johnson has had many successes throughout his career, he values the relationships he has built throughout his time at Barlow most. Johnson states his greatest accomplishment is, “Developing relationships with both students and my colleagues, and maintaining those relationships over the years.” By coaching basketball and teaching English, Johnson cultivated relationships with many different kids from many different backgrounds, making him a valuable person in the Barlow community. The day-to-day contact with staff and students,” is what Johnson will miss most about teaching at Barlow. 

Known as Mr. Johnson in the classroom, Coach Johnson comes alive as the head boy’s basketball coach. Johnson has put star varsity players on the court year after year and has successfully coached numerous impressive seasons. Johnson’s love for basketball has inspired many to work hard in their craft. Johnson recounts, “I played [basketball] collegiately and when I was hired as a teacher for my first job, they wanted me to coach. So, I started coaching and just continued doing so.” Even after retiring, Johnson plans on subbing in the fall. During his retirement, he looks forward to being able to manage his time in whichever way he wants. With many years of teaching and experience, Johnson has some advice for young and aspiring teachers, “Enjoy it more…Learning should be fun, and as a teacher, if you are not having fun then I don’t think the students are having fun. You need to have boundaries as a teacher and you need to have standards, but you also need to enjoy it. A principal a long time ago once told me that this job is too stressful not to have some fun, and that has always stayed with me” 

During Johnson’s career, he has had to deal with different students who might not always be the; perfect’ students. But here’s Johnson’s advice for students, “Come to class and take it seriously. You don’t have to take yourself so seriously, but take the act of being a student seriously.” 

Tom Johnson has been a vital member of Barlow for many years and will continue to be an important member of the Barlow community for many more years to come. While Johnson might be leaving the Barlow halls, he will always be a bruin. In Johnson’s final words for the Barlow community, he says, “We have a mantra at our school, ‘Once a Bruin, always a Bruin,’ so I will always be a Bruin, and I will always do whatever I can to support this school.” 


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