LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Antonio Johnson

Position: Paraprofessional (Math)/Academic Games Coach
School: Grandport Elementary Academy
School District: Ecorse Public Schools
City, State: Ecorse, MI

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Antonio Johnson was nominated by a friend, Oluseyi Salako. Mr. Johnson and Salako have been friends since their sophomore year at Cass Tech High School, and their friendship has extended for over 15 years.

Mr. Johnson is truly a brilliant, committed, loyal, and resilient individual. He grew up with the love and support of his parents, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and extended relatives.  Unfortunately, while growing up, Mr. Johnson endured the loss of his older brother as a young age. Instead of allowing his loss to keep him down and out, he channeled that energy into get involved in Academic Games through the recommendation of his middle school teacher in the sixth grade. Mr. Johnson often states academic games has literally saved his life, and it has given him a bright future away from drugs, joining gangs or being in the streets.

At first, he did not grasp the concepts. However after some coaching and studying for the Academic Games tournament, he began to win tournaments from middle school through high school!  His love for math began to radiate in and outside the classroom.

"In our math classes in high school, he helped some of our classmates understand the concepts of geometry, algebra and pre-calculus," Salako recalled.

Currently, Mr. Johnson is a math paraprofessional at Grandport Academy in Ecorse, Michigan. His passion for math is exuded in his teaching approaches for students in and out of the classroom. His math affinity is contagious to anyone comes in contact with him. He personally assisted  and tutored Salakoin their upper level math courses at Michigan State University. 

"The way he explained the concepts of proofs, elementary set theory, permutations, combinations, cardinality theorems, relations functions and quotient sets were easy to follow and grasp.  I have had the opportunity to observe him in the classroom at Grandport Academy a few times as well. Many of the students look up to Antonio as a role model, especially his male students they look to Antonio as a big brother," Salako said.  "Antonio wants his students to be well rounded individuals.  He makes learning math fun! "

At one observation with his sixth graders, Mr. Johnson had the students compete in a friendly game of solving algebraic expressions using Kahoot on their iPads. He also encourages his students to engage in collaborative learning, where a few of the students demonstrate problems to the rest of the class, so they can further their understanding. 

He often stays after school to provide extra assistance and tutoring to his students.  Outside of that, Antonio privately tutors grades 5 through freshmen year of college in all types of math.  After he graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in math, he became an Academic Games Coach.  He has been a judge at the regional, state and national tournaments and competitions for the Michigan League of Academic Games (MLAG).  He is the current MLAG assistant director, where he oversees communications for the games, and he is also a webmaster for Mr. Johnson encourages his nieces and nephews to join MLAG, and he also helps them with their math homework.  He wants to bring awareness regarding MLAG to various organizations and schools across the state.  

In February 2017, Mr. Johnson had a radio interview with Dave Jaconette from WJRW 1340 Radio in Grand Rapids, Michigan to promote the Michigan League of Academic Games.  There was a super tournament being held in Grand Rapids at that time. Earlier this year (2017), Mr. Johnson was awarded the Christopher Holstein Lifetime Achievement Award from MLAG.  He also won the 2017 Outstanding Educator Award from the Academic Games League of America. 

"He is a superb paradigm of resiliency and perseverance, and he brings his 'A game' EVERY TIME when it comes to math! I am so proud of him and all of his achievements!" Salako said.

Comments (25)

Montresa Eddie Posted over a year ago

I'm honestly not sure how to put into words how AMAZING Antonio is. I feel like a proud mom watching him as he develops our adults of tomorrow. His assistance goes without hesitation. Just as someone showed him the path towards GREAT, he wants to ensure that he has a the same positive effect on today's youth. Unapologetically dedicated! He puts in countless hours to make sure that GREATNESS is achievable and I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg to his GREATNESS. I can't think of anyone else who deserves this award more than Antonio.

Luis Gonzalez-Yante Posted over a year ago

I met Mr. Johnson during my freshman year as an Academic Games player at Cass Technical High School. I was rusty since I had not participated in Academic Games in three years, but Mr. Johnson quickly prepared me to compete in monthly and state tournaments. He worked tirelessly to help improve my and my team's skills. He prepared pages of information for Presidents, hundreds of proof problems for Wff-n-Proof, and spend countless hours practicing Equations with us. Mr. Johnson's dedication to helping us improve did not stop at the classroom. He would always assist when we needed help. He drove us to and from tournaments, met with us during school breaks for a few extra hours of practice and made sure we were doing well at home. Over the course of four years, Mr. Johnson changed from caring coach to a role model I hope to become as officially enter the adult world. As a senior in my final semester studying Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, I can't help but attribute my successes to the passion for learning, determination to improve, and humanity to help others Mr. Johson instilled me.

Kristen McLean Posted over a year ago

Mr. Johnson is a delight and inspiration to everyone he works with, both children and adults alike. His passion for academics shines as he teaches students, and he is always willing to help in ANY way he can. Mr.Johnson is truly a life changer and deserves this award!

Taneisha Mackey Posted over a year ago

Antonio Johnson is a phenomenal educator. He’s very patient and connects with the children on a personal level. I’ve seen him tutor and he will find ways to explain the subject that gets the child to understand. He’s passionate and loves what he does. If all educators were this passionate our education system would truly thrive. Good luck you deserve this award.

SaMya Overall Posted over a year ago

Mr. Johnson was my Academic Games coach for w years. In those two years, he taught me more than how to win the game. The math skills we learned still help me in my math classes now even though I'm not involved in academic games anymore. Congrats on the nomination.

Tanina Mackey Posted over a year ago

Mr. Johnson embodies the spirit of an educator and dedicates his life to changing the lives of children inside and outside the classroom daily. Mr. Johnson pushes his students to be their best in Academic Games and willingly gives of his time on the weekends for their tournaments and/or tutoring children in our community. He knows his material and thinks outside the box for ways to help cultivate children's interest in math. That is the reason he has always been the first person I'd contact when I need supplemental support for my own child. I am grateful that M. Johnson chose th field of education as his impact will be seen in generations to come through Academic Games. He truly cares about the wellbeing of the children he works with. And for that reason those students will be able to reference him as someone who cares about their wellbeing.

Tyrell Slappey Posted over a year ago

It's difficult to find a place to start to talk about how great of a dude Tony is. He was my RA back in my college days at Michigan State and he always displayed a down to earth, helpful, caring personality to himself. Not to mention he knew how to lead without being a jerk about it. I sit and watch the involvement Tony has with the children he coaches in Academic Games, and he adds more than just his vast knowledge of mathematics to them. Tony makes sure these kids understand that they can do anything they want to in life. He connects with them on their level and in a way they can understand. Shows them a mind is really a terrible thing to waste, especially in today's world. He cares so much about the generation behind us. It needs to be more people like that in the world. Its no award that can thank Tony or acknowledge him the way he really deserves, but if this award is one step closer to him being recognized on an even higher level, then I'm here to say he deserves it all the way!

Brittany Johnson Posted over a year ago

Antonio Johnson loves his job and loves teaching the kids. He truly tries to encourage the kids and development them to learn math. He is very passionate about helping the children and wants them to succeed in math, Academic games, and whatever interests that they convey to him.

Melvin White Posted over a year ago

Congrats! I've seen first hand your work ethic. You've given blood ,sweat, and tears to ensure your students receive the best mentorship and education possible. Continue the good work. I'm proud of you!

Thomas May Posted over a year ago

You are deserving of this honor and many more. Your passion for the kids and your craft is unparalleled as well as your determination for bettering those around you.

Melvin White Posted over a year ago

I've known Antonio for a number of years now. Over that time I've lost count of the sacrifices he's made to ensure educational excellence. Late night's tutoring or coaching in academic games. Weekends at work creating stimulating lesson plans to nurture the youth or simply ensuring his students return home safely. For all his efforts he is more than deserving of this award. Proud of you man! Congratulations!

Kashi Wade Posted over a year ago

His passion for education is poured into his students. His dedication and pride for his craft consistently shines through the students he has touched.

Justin Pugh Posted over a year ago

Antonio Is extremely deserving of this nomination. He is devoted to nothing else but helping his students excel in life through his teachings. There is not a lot of love or interest in math from the kids in our area but he presents it to them in a way that makes them want to dive into learning. By making these kids realize they can have a future in mathematics he is making our city a better place. Congratulations!

Andrew Mahone Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on the nomination Antonio. I am glad to see that your hard work has not gone unnoticed. We need more teachers like you to help inspire and motivate our young to achieve things they never thought was possible.

Pearline Johnson Duesette-Hammond Posted over a year ago

I am very proud of my Nephew’s help to all the Children in his School. He has been a good Teacher, Working with the Teaching of Math and Sports. My God Bless You for many more years to help improve the Students.

Angela Sparks Posted over a year ago

I have known Antonio since high school and I have witnessed his love for math since then. The time and comment he gives the children in academic games is inspirational. Even when he is wore out, tired or just feeling blah, he still show up for those kids. We need more people like him helping our children. Even with his busy schedule he finds time to help his friends. There has been times where I asked him for help with my son's math homework and the helped me with no hesitation. I just want to say from a parent perspective, thank you.

Selina Jackson Posted over a year ago

Always heard about this young man thru his sister's, he has a passion for what he does with teaching and giving back to the community. You seldom find someone who loves math like this and shares his love and passion with children. Congratulations on this well deserved nomination.

Christina McKinley Posted over a year ago

Congratulating Antonio! I've witness first-hand of the time you spend with these children. There is no doubt in my mind that you deserve this nomination. Working with children and improving their lives had been something you've done for years and I'm exciting that for are being recognized for it!

Crystal McKinley Posted over a year ago

I have known Antonio since sophomore year of high school, so I've have had the privilege of watching him grow in his field and encourage him when needed. He is truly dedicated to the growth of youth today. It doesn't matter what day it is. I've seen him dedicate his time on Sundays! His heart is truly for the kids and I pray that he gets the recognition that is due to him.

Rhianna Pitts Posted over a year ago

I only remember one math teacher as passionate and dedicated as Mr. Johnson. They are rare jewels. There is something to be said about a person who can make math enjoyable. It is Mr. Johnson's steadfastness, mentorship and love for his students that makes him a more than worthy candidate for this award.

Toyre Burks Posted over a year ago

Mr. Johnson is very deserving of this award! He continues to make an impact on many because of his evident passion for mentoring, coaching, and teaching Math/Academic Games. It is always inspiring to see him in his element. Congratulations!

Laura Waller Posted over a year ago

This nomination speaks volumes on the integrity of Antonio Johnson. The impact amd encouragement he has on his students in Mathematics, inspiring them to learn and understand further than just needing a passing grade shows he is an awesome educator. He is what this generation, and future generations need to help cultivate more students understand how math is used in everyday life. The concept of teamwork and socialization from Academic Games has continued to motivate his students that come back and thank him and flourish in high school and beyond. He is more than deserving of this nomination and most certainly a winner beyond measure.

James Robinson Posted over a year ago

Congratulations to Antonio! Well deserved. Antonio Johnson has always dedicated his time to understanding mathematics and helping Metro Detroit youth have a better understanding and respect for academic success. What he has been doing is playing his part to ensure the success of Detroit’s brightest days to come. Definitely a beacon of hope for Metro Detroit! Salute!

Vincent Tucker Posted over a year ago

Though I never had the privilege of witnessing in his element, the way Antonio speaks about his interactions with the children in his classroom brims with passion. This nomination is well deserved. #lifechangeroftheyear

Tonia Holloway Posted over a year ago

Congratulations to Antonio, I am so proud that he is a dedicated leader in education. His commitment is inspirational. Antonio is a good example of what it means to turn your passion into something that can make a real impact. I have watched him grow as a student and now a leader. He is a prime example of what the United States need today. Young children, need people in thier lives that lead them and encourage excellence.