A Texas teacher who teaches an educational technology course in a rural community in the western U.S. has graduated from a four-year college degree program in rural education, a book about the effort said Tuesday.
Randy Johnson, whose career began in 1995 as a high school teacher, said he was “absolutely ecstatic” to graduate from Texas A&M University’s Hunter Education program with a bachelor’s degree in digital literacy in 2016.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” Johnson said of his decision to pursue a career in rural development.
He said he has been mentored by the school’s digital literacy teacher, a graduate of Hunter Education.
The program is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Hunter Education grants are administered through the Texas Department of Education.
Johnson is now working to complete a master’s degree program that would take him through an eight-year undergraduate degree in computer and information science, a bachelor of arts in education and a master of business administration.
He is also working on a master in education degree that he said will take him into the public schools system.
“I’m going to be able to bring that knowledge to the classroom in a way that no one else is able to,” Johnson told the Austin American-Statesman in a phone interview Tuesday.
A former high school and college teacher, Johnson has taught digital literacy courses in Texas, Oklahoma and elsewhere since he was a teenager.
“You can’t go into the classroom without hearing someone’s voice,” Johnson, a former math teacher at a Dallas high school, said.
“The students are very, very bright.
They can take anything.
They’re always thinking about what they want to do.
You want to have that connection.
It’s the same thing you do when you go to the movies.
You get a sense of being there.”
He said his classroom taught him about “the human story,” about “how to make people feel safe in their communities.”
“It’s not about technology, but about human interaction,” he said.
Johnson said he and his wife were inspired to take up the teaching profession after he graduated from high school in 1995.
They have since worked at schools, colleges and universities.
“We’re not just a bunch of engineers.
We’re a human being who wants to change the world.
And that’s what we’re trying to do,” Johnson added.
The Hunter Education initiative is part of the Texas Education Department’s “Ready for a New World” initiative that has been aimed at creating a pipeline of graduates to serve in a variety of public service roles in the state’s public schools.
The initiative was developed by Hunter Education founder Robert P. Jones in 2015, Johnson said.
The school, which is located about 70 miles north of Dallas, has taught students from kindergarten through high school for the past three decades.
Johnson, a married father of two who works as a teacher, is part-time with the school as a technical assistant, he said, and plans to graduate in two years.
Johnson’s book, entitled “The Teacher’s Manual,” will be released in May, but he said he will continue to teach the course through his teaching career.
“This book has given me the motivation to continue to go into classrooms, to work in schools,” Johnson joked.
Johnson and his family live in an area of the state with a high concentration of hunters.
They live in a home that has a hunting cabin, and he has taken courses in survival skills.
He plans to take the Hunter education course on his own and hopes to earn a master degree as well.
“One of the things that I really like about Hunter Education is that they have a lot of people on the team that are from their community.
You don’t get to know all the people on this team,” Johnson explained.