Surrey Elementary teacher gets surprise of a lifetime

Local News

Retired Surrey Elementary Teacher Terry Johnson said, “I was kind of at loose ends, I went to Northern State, I went to Williston, UNDW, then I came to Minot State and decided to go into teaching.”

In 1985, Terry did just that, finding herself in Surrey teaching at the elementary school as a first-grade teacher, third-grade teacher and a title one math teacher.

“In the beginning, I did a lot of paperwork. I student taught under this lady and she did a lot of packets and those kinds of things, but we didn’t have all the technology that they do now so kids did far more with paper and pencil,” Terry said.

Terry says she enjoyed it though watching how things quickly evolved around her, but after 40 years she was ready to call it quits.

“I had decided at the beginning of the year that this was probably going to be my last year,” she said, and it was not how she expected it.

“Another teacher and I drove down to Bismarck in February and turned in all of our paperwork and then a month later, it was like, it hit, and we were done,” she said.

Terry said she never truly got to say goodbye to all her students, which was very emotional, but thanks to her husband and two daughters, Julie and Jenna Johnson, her mood was soon uplifted.

“It kind of just came about that we were going to do a sign parade,” Julie said.

Over the last couple of weeks, the family has been encouraging friends, coworkers, neighbors and students to create a sign and either post it in their yard or stop by and show it to Terry personally like one of her old students did.

“She really makes a difference in students’ lives and even my life. She’s definitely one of my inspirations to become a teacher,” student Shelby Gantzer said.

Terry’s daughters are both teachers too, planning to carry on the legacy.

“This is just something that we’ve always known because we watched her teach, so it’s just something that kind of came about. We knew we were going to be teachers,” Jenna said.

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