A career in public education has taken Greg Johnson ’83 MAEd ’92 to a lot of places. In almost 30 years of working with students of all ages, teachers, coaches and administrators, he’s lived and worked in North Carolina, Ohio, Maine and Washington, D.C. From time to time, he wondered what would happen if his career headed in a new direction, took an international route. But the right opportunity never arose.
And then it did. This school year, Johnson returns to a setting he’s familiar with – a middle school – the same type of environment where he began his career in 1985. But this time he will be in a far corner of the globe.
An Academic All-American as a member of the WCU baseball team in 1983, Johnson is joining a team of teachers and administrators to open a new school, Vision International School, in Doha, Qatar, across the Persian Gulf from Iran. His two-year appointment runs through the 2015-16 school year. “It’s the first year for the school and exciting to be involved with the start-up. They need more schools in Qatar and the parents want their children to be well educated,” he said.
Qatar, an oil-rich Arab country, is more than 7,000 miles from the small town of Midland in Cabarrus County, where Johnson grew up. “This will be a new challenge for me and I’m eager to see what develops. I believe in taking risks and chances in life, and accepting a new job is part of that process. It seemed a perfect time to try,” he said.
Through the years, Johnson has held a variety of education positions at many levels. He served as a teacher, coach and assistant principal in Cabarrus County schools; an admissions recruiter at WCU; a fellow at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching; the multicultural enrollment director at Colby College in Waterville, Maine; a senior policy analyst at the National Education Association in Washington, D.C.; and consultant for special projects at The Ohio State University.
In Qatar, he will be a full-time curriculum coach for the faculty, helping teachers develop effective strategies for instructing a largely international student population. “Qatar is an international country and certainly we’ll have students from all over the world,” he said.
“I’ve always been interested in cultural differences and enjoy meeting persons who have a different world view from my own, who think differently from me, and who have had a different experience,” he said. “This is going to be a great learning opportunity.”