Michelle Johnston has dedicated her career in education to preparing others to teach.
“These students are the future; I am the past,” Johnston said. “I have to make sure students in education can teach and that everybody has the knowledge along with the ethics. They have to follow the rules and teach people how to behave. We are all about teaching students to do the right thing. It’s a constitutional effort.”
Johnston, who joined Ferris in 1999 as associate dean of the College of Education and Human Services, and became dean in 2002, manages four departments within the college: School of Education, School of Criminal Justice, Television and Digital Media Production, and Recreation, Leisure Services and Wellness.
She typically arrives at her office in Bishop Hall about 6:45 a.m. and begins building her daily agenda. Although she considers herself an avid multi-tasker, Johnston sometimes doesn’t leave her office until 8 p.m. She always asks the question “Do you want to be an employee or an employer?” of her students and her own two sons, she said, because she believes they should always strive to be the best they can, just as she does every day.
“There is always something new to learn,” said Johnston, who has taught students and educators in 48 states and several countries all over the world, including France, Japan, Brazil, China, Germany and the Netherlands. “I am always experimenting to see how things go and how I can better myself and the college. I learn from my students every day.”
Johnston serves as an “ambassador” for the university by representing Ferris on several committees. She is president of the Michigan Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and was chair of the Michigan’s Dean’s Council for three years. Johnston also is actively involved with the Michigan Virtual University Advisory Council, and the Rural Schools and Community Trust.
“Students come here, and hopefully they will get a good education. But it’s only four years and that will change the rest of your life,” said Johnston. “I have to do things here to make sure that the impact of your education will help you be a leader.
“Education is a huge public good, and it makes everything better. For all of us to go and educate others, the world becomes better.”
Samantha Bankey was a News Services student writer in University Advancement and Marketing.
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