DeLong Elementary School physical education teacher Gale Johnson thought Nov. 30 was going to be just another day at the “office,” training his students how to ride unicycles, balance on balls and tumble around mats. But it was no ordinary day, that is if there is ever an “ordinary day” for teachers. “Every day is different,” the veteran teacher of 37 years said. “Every year is different.” So this day was even more different than his “usual different” since television cameras and radio crews swarmed into his gym in the middle of class to announce that he had won STAR 101.5 FM’s Teacher of the Week award. In a local contest conducted by STAR 101.5 radio, Johnson was nominated by his student, Savanah Olson, who had filled out a nomination form while at Applebee’s. Johnson was selected from several hundred nominations submitted from throughout Puget Sound.
“He is just the most awesome, amazing teacher in the world,” fifth grader Olson said. One thing that makes him stand out is that he runs the district’s Young Ambassadors for Physical Education, which draws about 30 students from around the district to perform on unicycles and tumbling mats during basketball games and school assemblies around the district. The students practice after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays at DeLong, where he teaches performers as young as 7 and 8 to ride the one-wheelers to be part of the acts, despite not being able to ride the unicycles himself. “I just haven’t gotten around to it yet,” he said. Each of Johnson’s students received a goody bag full of swag and gift cards from Applebee’s, Washington State Employees Credit Union, Dairy Farmers of Washington, KOMO 4 and STAR 101.5. Johnson received a personalized plaque from Issaquah Trophy and Awards, a $100 check from Washington State Employees Credit Union, and a $100 Applebee’s gift card. He will get a makeover courtesy of Blanc N’ Schwartz Salon in Kent.
A video of the presentation is available in the “Videos on Demand” section of the Tacoma Public School’s website, http://www.Tacomaschools.org.