Holly Johnston

1st Grade at Lead-Deadwood Elementary School, Lead

Being a teacher is Holly Johnston’s calling in life. From age five, Holly told her uncle she was going to be a teacher, and today, she is in her 21st year of being a mentor, a role model, and yes – a teacher – to her students at Lead-Deadwood Elementary School.

Beginning her career at Summit Elementary, Holly began teaching first-graders. And after 16 years in northeastern South Dakota, an opportunity at Lead-Deadwood opened up. In 2014, Holly, her husband, and her children made the move and have called the Black Hills home ever since.

“My class is a very caring group of kids. They truly amaze me,” said Holly. “Someone drops something, and they are right there to help pick it up. If you have a bad day, they are there for a hug or a pat on the back.”

That attitude is inspired by how Holly leads by example. She sees her students as family and extrudes a caring atmosphere in her classroom each and every day.

“I want my students to love to be here. I do everything in my power to make them love to be at school.”

That philosophy and mission is being carried out, and parents notice.

“We have a daughter who hated school and was in trouble a lot,” said Amber Vogt, a parent to one of Holly’s students. “After being diagnosed with ADHD, we met Holly and she immediately made me feel comfortable with her understanding and willingness to work with our daughter.”

Now, her student loves school, is caught up in each of her subjects, and truly looks up to Holly as a person and role model.

With a love of learning, Holly makes sure kids have fun while they are participating in lessons and projects. She is there to support her students and let’s their voices be heard.

“I’m not sure what we would have done if we would not have met this wonderful teacher,” said Amber.


words  Jenna Carda
photos  Jesse Brown Nelson


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