Business education in schools has gone through many changes during the past 35 years. Students learned to type on typewriters when Sherry Johnson started her teaching career. She’s retiring after 32 years at Central Valley High School.
“When I started, I taught shorthand. I taught typing on a manual typewriter. I taught business machines,” she said. But those machines are no longer in use. “I like to antique, and I go into antique stores sometimes and I see some of those machines. Mimeographs and the old, where you punch the numbers in and pull the handle down, I can’t even remember what they are called now. When I started, that’s what we did.”
The district started to bring in more computers, and the students would rotate between typewriters and the word processing programs on the computers.
“Finally, we got the whole computer lab,” she said. “It was a lot of work, when you would rotate the students through the computers. Now we teach the programs, and we teach formatting skills of documents, but they have to learn the programs first.”
She still teaches students typing skills and proper technique, however.
Johnson has also used her business background to teach accounting and personal finance. Every so often she teaches an applied math course. Once, during a time of a lot of budget cuts, she even taught home economics.
She taught for two years in the Lower Snoqualmie School District before moving to Priest River, Idaho, for a year. She had grown up in Spokane, a graduate of West Valley High School, and wanted to try for a job here. There weren’t any positions available at the time, so she put her business skills to work as a secretary for the director of the student union at Eastern Washington University before she found a job in the Central Valley School District.
“I started out, I thought I was interested in accounting and I really loved my business classes in high school. My mother told me to look at education. She said if I got married and had children it would be a really good area because I would have time off with the children in the summer,” she said.
One of Johnson’s legacies at CV will be her Future Business Leaders of America chapters.
“FBLA has been an awesome experience,” she said. She shared the chapter with other teachers in the school, and she co-chartered the first chapter in 1981. It was disbanded for a while during the 1980s, but resurrected in 1992. She took over sole advisory duties in 1999.
Her classroom at school is lined with trophies the chapter has won at various competitions.
“This year I have four students going to nationals,” she said. “We’ve had students qualify every year for 15 years for nationals.”
She is proud of the work the group does during the school year. They are heavily involved in community service, organizing fundraisers for the March of Dimes or collecting care packages for troops overseas.
“If you get a really good group which is really go-getters, they just seem to take control and they can come up with the good ideas,” she said.
After she retires, she plans to spend time with her husband, Art, who retired a couple of years ago. Johnson also wants to do more gardening, knitting, sewing and camping in the early autumn.
She also has a new grandson she wants to visit.
“He’s on the other side of the mountains,” she said.
Her husband has never seen Mount Rushmore, and she hopes to visit soon. She has two daughters, Charlyn Johnson, 30, a Spanish teacher at R.A. Long High School in Longview, Wash., and Renee Shaw, 28, a stay-at-home mother to Benjamin, Johnson’s grandson, who is 10 months old.
“I’ve made some friends that are going to be lifelong friends,” she said of her Central Valley family. “I’ve enjoyed my teaching career here.”