Cameron Johnson

Teaching on an Indian reservation

When Cameron Johnson walks into an elementary school classroom, she breathes a sigh of relief and smiles.

For her, it's exactly where she's supposed to be.

"In the classroom, I'm able to dance and teach with enthusiasm, stand on tables, make students move around and have energy themselves," says Cameron, a graduate education student in curriculum and instruction. "It's important for them to believe in themselves at such a young age. I didn't necessarily have that; I loved learning, but I didn't like school. I want to make it for them the way I wish it had been for me."

Originally from Charleston, S.C., Cameron came to LaGrange College as an undergraduate transfer student from a university in Ohio. She thought she would major in pre-medicine and become a pediatrician until she shadowed someone in the medical field and realized it wasn't her calling. Because she enjoyed children, she decided early childhood education would be a good fit.

"I just fell in love with it," says Cameron, who earned her bachelor's degree in early childhood education from LaGrange College in 2012. "Since I've been at the college, I've had field experiences in each grade, and I student taught fifth-graders at Franklin Forest Elementary."

She says rather than her teaching youngsters, they instead have taught her.

"I didn't realize how much they would impact me," says Cameron, who is working as a graduate assistant in the college's Office of Student Engagement while she pursues her master's degree. "The experience has shown me how uniquely created we all are. I've truly been able to see how every student is smart, every student has a gift, and every student has potential."

While at LaGrange College, Cameron also had an internship at a local cognitive therapy center and worked directly with a child who has autism. Because the child and his family live in New York and travel to LaGrange for the specific learning the center provides, Cameron spent several weeks in New York with him.

She also interned at Ault Academy in LaGrange, which is part of a residential program that serves the needs of behaviorally and emotionally disturbed middle- and high-school-age males. And this summer, she will travel with LaGrange College's Education Department to the United Kingdom, where the group will observe classrooms. Some students will present their master's theses to a board there.

She says the Education Department's faculty members have made her experience at LaGrange College transformative.

"I came here still trying to figure out who I was, what I believed in, where my faith was, and if I even had faith," she says. "Coming here was definitely supposed to happen for me. I have been able to search and ask questions about who I am and who I want to be. My professors have shown me there are no bad questions, no judgment. This has transformed me in seeing life as a learning experience, as a journey and not a destination."

Cameron plans to teach on an Indian reservation after she earns her master's degree.

"I went to Arizona to visit, and I shadowed my sister-in-law, who is a nurse," she says. "I'm just fascinated by the culture and laws surrounding Indian reservations, and the more I research it, the more fascinated I become."

Cameron says many of the families on the Indian reservation she visited do not see education as a necessity, and through her visit, she saw how the U.S. government sends teachers to the reservation so the Indian people can learn strategies, but those teachers do not stay. She also saw how secluded the reservation is from its surroundings.

"There's a language barrier, and on top of that, the students are taught our ways, our culture," she says. "The education they're given now separates them from their own traditions. It really saddens me that their culture is taken out of their learning experience. Their culture is so rich, and their history is so rich, and I want to be able to teach them where they can keep that as part of their education."


Friends for the Journey

LaGrange College attracts the best and the brightest from all over the world. For example, our most recent incoming class consisted of men and women from 19 states and 10 countries, and included:

  • 76 members of Beta Club or the National Honor Society
  • 71 members of service organizations
  • 51 team captains in varsity sports
  • 25 leaders involved in student government, with 11 presidents
  • Three students involved in school publications, one as editor
  • Two Eagle Scouts
  • 20 musicians in band or orchestra
  • 18 singers in choir
  • 31 entertainers in performing arts
  • 85 students in religious activities.

But you don’t have to be a star in high school to succeed at LaGrange. Here, you’re given the opportunity to discover the best in yourself and find your destiny – all in a caring and supportive environment.