Mathematics teacher Matt Johnson is the “social and emotional glue” of the Lincoln Public Schools Science Focus Program’s teaching team, according to Kurt Glathar, the program’s principal.
The program is also known as “Zoo School” because of its location at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.
“Matt’s room is the center of most teacher activities in the program,” Glathar said. “All team meetings occur in his room, and often you will find a cookie, a piece of candy or some other treat waiting for you.
“Matt helps with the daily announcements and often has a ‘joke of the day,’” Glathar added. “Usually the jokes are pretty lame, but he is consistent in his efforts to make us smile.”
Johnson shows concern and caring for all of his students, Glathar said. “You will find students with him after school, seeking help and support with mathematics and research projects. Often students come to his room just to talk.”
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Johnson has taught math for 34 years – the past nine at the Science Focus Program. Originally from Laurel, Nebraska, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Math, a Master’s in Education and has completed pre-doctoral studies, all at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Why did Johnson choose teaching as a profession?
“To make a difference in this world – one child, one family, one community at a time,” he said.
Johnson is also a volunteer math tutor for under-represented students in cooperation with Bill Bryant, LPS African American Liaison. In addition, he is a volunteer pilot math teacher for LPS in a variety of math courses. Currently he volunteers at Sheridan Lutheran Church – ushering, reading to students and helping maintain the church gardens.
In 2015, Johnson participated in a UNL/LPS panel discussion about math in science as part of the STEM Conference.
Recently, Johnson was named Teacher of the Month by the Lincoln East Rotary Club and U.S. Bank. He received $100 each from East Rotary and U.S. Bank, with one of the awards covering the purchase of classroom materials and the other award for his personal use.
His wife, Cathy Gillette, works for State Farm Insurance. They have six children, all over age 26, and 10 grandchildren from 1.5 to 16 years of age.
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