Happy Friday! This week’s Fabulous Female Friday features one of my best friends, Mandy Johnson. My path first crossed with Mandy’s when I was student teaching. Mandy was a first year teacher at the school where I was student teaching, and I think that the two of us were both too frazzled to realize how much we had in common! Thankfully, I ended up working at that school, a year after I graduated, and Mandy and I have been family ever since! Mandy and I know that the best ways to cheer each other up usually involve something sweet and delicious and/or a picture or video of adorable animals. 

Mandy Johnson, Music Teacher
“I am so honored to be part of #FabulousFemaleFriday! I have been a music teacher for eight years now, but have transitioned from middle to high school in the past two years. This will be my third year with the ‘big kids’, and I am still constantly amazed at how they rise to every challenge and make beautiful music together. They make the endless rehearsals, many many performances and long nights worth it with their smiles, creativity and genuine love for what we do!”
When do you feel your strongest? I always feel my strongest when my life is in balance- making sure I spend enough time with family and friends as well as pursuing professional goals. 

On your most difficult days, what keeps you going? On my most difficult days, I remember that I am proud to be in a profession where I have the privilege of helping people and making the world a better place every day. Sometimes students come back and thank me for things I thought were so insignificant at the time… knowing that any moment could be that moment keeps me on my toes. Even a well timed smile can turn someone’s day around- I know their smiles do that for me!

What do you value the most in yourself, you relationship with your spouse/partner, and your family?  I am constantly impressed by my family’s wisdom, humor and love. My Mom and Grandmother have been such strong influences in my life and taught me how to be true to myself and my calling. My Father reinforced his belief that choosing a job solely for it’s salary is never worth it if you don’t love what you do. One thing they all impressed upon me either through their example or their words is that when you find a partner, he should be someone who makes you laugh. Someone you have fun with. Your best friend. I feel so lucky that their wisdom lead me to Vinny, who is my rock. Any man who is brave enough to jump in with my loud, wild family and still knows me well enough to rush me to the hospital for surgery when I insist I’m fine is a rare treasure. For myself… I think I most value my creativity. It’s a gift from both sides of my family that allows me to solve every problem that comes my way while still having fun! It’s something that puts a smile on my husbands face. Most of all, I feel like it is the essence of who I am and I’m so glad I’ve found a life that thrives on that gift.
So far, what have been your greatest accomplishment(s)? Being brave for others when dealing with situations that would have scared me to death when I was younger. The amount of humanity you see as a teacher can be overwhelming. One year a student came to me with a sensitive abuse situation. Being able to act as a first responder, listen to her and then get her the help she needed was both the greatest and most terrible accomplishment I can think of. Before I got my degree, I wanted to avoid teaching older students because some of these situations just made me sick. It took me a long time to realize that these situations don’t go away because you close your eyes to them. Students need someone trustworthy and informed who will reach back when they reach out. I’m so glad I can be that person. Watching that student get help and grow stronger and more confident made my heart feel like it was going to burst.  

What advice would you give to your younger self? Own it. Own YOU! Don’t apologize for who you are- revel in it!

(Yes, that’s Vinny from my post, “Shopping with Vinny”! Aren’t they such a cute couple??)


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