Staff Spotlight: Felicia Johnson
Posted on 10/11/2022
Felicia Johnson

Staff Spotlight: Felicia Johnson

Felicia Johnson is the teacher for the self-contained PRIDE program at Norris Elementary School. After 25 years teaching in East Hartford, including 18 in this type of program, Johnson has a unique ability to help students be the best they can be.

“The PRIDE program is basically a little nudge for kids. It’s like a safe space for kids that have a little bit of difficulty with things like dysregulation, frustration, things that everyone in the world has issues with. But for them the hurdle is a little bit higher, and so sometimes they fall down and we just need to pick them up and help them keep running,” explained Johnson.

Norris Principal Corrie Schram says Johnson’s role is to take each student for who they are, capitalize on their strengths and teach to their needs.

“She looks at every student as an individual,” said Principal Schram. “She has an outstanding ability to speak to students and to ask them questions to get at the root of any problems they might be having and to give them strategies to help solve problems. It’s a gift that she has and it really benefits the students.”

Both Johnson and Schram agree that she has found success in her role because she establishes an atmosphere of trust and love. From the way she talks to her students to the way she’s decorated her classroom, she aims to create a comfortable environment with the feeling of a home away from home.

“They mean a lot to her and she means a lot to them,” said Principal Schram. “When she has established those relationships with her students and within her classroom, it builds a family and it builds a community.”

Johnson said, “I think the kids believe that I believe in them and I think that they feel safe here. They’re willing to be vulnerable and take risks and try things because they know that no matter what I have their back.”

Johnson says she loves everything about her job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Her favorite part, she says, is helping her students find their confidence and realize they are capable.

“It almost makes me tear up all the time because they’re so amazed at how they came in and how they leave or how the year ends,” she said. “So when I see them like kind of have that change and that metamorphosis into who I know they could be. It’s like my heart skips a beat.”