The Eta Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority awarded a $1,000 grant to Jeniqua Johnson, a first-grade teacher at Southview Elementary School. Johnson is the first person to receive the sorority’s inaugural First Year Educator Award.
The sorority members said that they nominated Johnson because they were aware of the difficulties faced by those in the teaching field, especially first-year teachers.
They told WBRC, “We’re doing this to support local educators in West Alabama. About 50% of teachers who have been teaching for three years leave the field, so it’s a critical time area at this time. We’re trying to motivate and encourage to stay in the education field,” said Shante’ Morton, the Tuscaloosa Chapter President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Johnson expressed that she was surprised to receive the award and that she planned to use the funds to raise student achievement.
“I was very surprised. I [was] really nervous because I was thinking it can’t be,” Johnson remarked.
Johnson revealed that she will be using the funds to purchase headphones for her 17 students. Johnson also said that the grant would help her students have more resources to enhance differentiated learning, according to the Tuscaloosa Thread. She believes it would have a significant impact on her English language learners and autistic students.
Southview Elementary Principal Ronika Amerson said that Johnson is “special because of her unique ability to connect with her students and parents. She is soft-spoken but firm with her students. I often refer to her as a ‘quiet storm.’ She is data-driven and goes far and beyond to ensure students’ success.”
Dr. Shanté Morton, President of the Eta Xi Omega Chapter, said, “The first year of teaching is a period of immense growth. First-year teachers learn not only about their students but also about themselves as educators.”
Eta Xi Omega graduate chapter members presented the grant to Johnson during a lunch period at Southview Elementary with students, staff, and other educators.
She received a $1,000 grant, a certificate recognizing her contribution, balloons, and a lovely floral arrangement from Sue’s Flowers in Northport, Alabama.