Teacher helps Milwaukee students through COVID, challenges

Teacher Appreciation Week, recognizing those who dedicate their lives to educating children, begins Monday, May 3.

On Milwaukee's north side, one teacher has gone above and beyond doing just that.

At Northwest Catholic School near 41st and Good Hope, teacher Terrence Johnson has guided his students through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They've (teachers) been heroes. They've been frontline workers in many ways," said Kathleen Cepelka, Ph.D., superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Johnson teaches seventh- and eighth-grade math. While simultaneously instructing some students in-person and others virtually, he has raised their overall performance 300 percent since the fall.

"They have exceeded beyond what I could have ever asked for," Johnson said. "I want to give them all of the credit."

Terrence Johnson

Destiny Petersen is one of his rising stars.

"I cannot say enough about how proud I am of her," said Johnson.

The eighth-grader is one of Johnson's top students.

"I used to hate school," said Petersen. "But from the first day Mr. Johnson started teaching me, he inspired me."

Destiny Petersen

Petersen's hard work is paying off -- she has earned herself a spot at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in the fall.

"More and more I realized, he's actually trying to help me and pushing me to become better," Petersen said.

Johnson doesn't only teach problem-solving on paper -- but lessons that apply beyond the classroom, too. 

"It is real-life skills they're going to use throughout their life," said Johnson.

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"It's not unusual for our Catholic school teachers to take care of, to have the backs of, to guide our children in their lives in the Catholic grade school, for example, but also into high school and for the rest of their lives," Cepelka said.

If you ask Johnson, this is just what he loves to do. 

"I'm very proud, that's actually the best part of my job," said Johnson.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is currently enrolling students for the fall. Click HERE to learn more.


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