Gering chemistry teacher Randy Johnson plans to retire after a successful 38 years of teaching

Adam Flowers, Staff Reporter

As Gering High School will be seeing many changes in appearance within the upcoming year, so will its staff. Amongst many of the teachers that are retiring, one of them, Randy Johnson, is retiring after teaching for 38 years.

  “Originally, I wanted to go into be a marine biologist, but I got involved in education classes and I just really liked them a lot.” said Johnson. He currently teaches chemistry and natural science at Gering High School. He had also taught biology in past years.

  Johnson grew up in Lawrence, KS and graduated in 1971. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas and his graduate degree from University of Nebraska – Kearney. Both of his parents who were involved with chemistry and other sciences were major influences in his choice to teach chemistry.

  “[I graduated] from Kansas in 1975 and I started teaching very first year out of college.”

  Johnson agreed that his first few years of teaching were rather difficult compared to now.

  “You don’t have much of a repertoire put together, you’re still learning a lot, you don’t know what to expect a little bit.”

  He originally started teaching in Norfolk, NE for four years. After he got married, he decided take two years off from teaching to compete his graduate work at Kearney and was a grad assistant. With that, he taught biology labs. Although, what prompted his decision to move and start teaching in Gering was one of his colleagues.

  “A big influence was [Don] Kugler,” he said. “He and I were in graduate classes down at Kearney and he was talking about the community. I was really impressed with the community when we came here.”

  Don Kugler was a previous staff member at Gering who taught physiology. He retired last year.

  Johnson has always enjoyed teaching chemistry because of the students. He wants every one of his students to be successful and help them meet their goals. He’s also always enjoyed watching his students experience growth, not just in the classroom, but with their activities and talents.

  “It’s still all about the students. I mean it’s kind of fun to watch what they’ve done or what they’ve become or the connections you keep with them years and years later,” said Johnson.  “Science isn’t necessarily everybody’s favorite, I mean everyone has their specialties and things that they like more than others, but the one thing I think all students can get out of science class, whether it’s chemistry or the others, is a lot of the problem solving strategies that come with it.”

  Johnson can easily contrast his first few years of teaching to teaching in recent years.

  “I think I’ve grown up a lot. I mean it’s a very disciplined profession, but on the other hand, it’s different every day and that’s what keeps it exciting.”