To know Joquetta Johnson, take a look at her 1994 Honda Accord.
Flashy. Bright. Dazzling. Eye catching. Complete with a custom sound system and televisions, it's at least the equal of any car from the " "Fast & Furious" " movies.
Now look a little closer. The basic model was practical and smart a great way to get from point A to point B. According to AutoTrader.com, it's a car that feels right at home. It's a car that provides reasonable performance, good economy and decent room in a package that doesn't take up too much real estate. And since its debut in 1976, the Accord has been the top-selling car in the United States several times.
The car is a reflection of Johnson's career.
She's been a library media specialist throughout Baltimore-area schools, which is a great position with an esteemed history. But Johnson decided to make the librarian something more by emphasizing the " "special" " in specialist.
She stands out without standing apart. She's bold without being brash. Her innovative approach, positive attitude and boundless energy encourage people to look at librarians differently. She educates in style. She made her car and her career her own.
" "Most people have a view that librarians sit behind a desk and just check out books; we are so much more than keepers of books," " Johnson said. " "I refuse to put myself in that box." "
No, Johnson will not be put in that box or any box, because she's too busy building her own brand in the ever-changing environment that is education. The self-proclaimed Digital diva, which stands for dynamic, innovative, visionary and authentic, is constantly improving, learning and growing. She is as much student as she is instructor, guided by a Native American proverb: He who learns from one who is learning, drinks from a flowing river.
But all this passion was almost funneled into a different field. In high school, she wanted to be an anesthesiologist, but math proved to be her downfall. She entertained the notion of being a concert violinist but decided instead to become a member of the drum line at Morgan State University, where she earned her degree in telecommunications.
Following her time at Morgan State, she completed significant coursework toward a master's in mass communications from Towson State, and Johnson seemed poised for a career connecting with people in a much broader way. Then something happened on the way to her " "life." " She got a job working in a school library, and it quickly evolved into something much greater.
" "When I first began, I didn't have any formal training no education background; I hadn't taken any library courses. It was true on-the-job training," " says Johnson, who is currently the library media specialist at Pikesville High School in Baltimore County. " "It was exciting, scary and exhausting, and I was so fortunate I had an administration that provided such support and encouragement. This career chose me." "
Now she has a master's degree in school library media from McDaniel College, and she embraces her career with all the gusto you would expect from someone who is already envisioning her next personal and professional renaissance as " "Joquetta Johnson 2.0," " no longer simply a diva.
In addition to her duties as a librarian, Johnson is a Google Certified Teacher (the only one in her school district), a member of the Maryland Society of Educational Technology, and she's served as a master teacher as part of the National Teacher Training Institute of Maryland Public Television.
At the core of her career and professional pursuits is her commitment to technology and the use of social media in education, which helps explain her passion for iste. Her first experience with the organization is one she will never forget.
" "I went to my first conference [then known as NECC, now ISTE] in 2001 in Chicago, and I was floored," " she says. " "I thought, 'OMG, I am in heaven.' These conferences are like Christmas." "
For Johnson, ISTE provides an oasis of knowledge and ongoing support that are invaluable, and while she truly enjoys the conferences and iste membership, it's not the personal benefits that give her the biggest boost.
" "I bring the knowledge back from these [conferences] and workshops, and I share it," " says Johnson, who also has served as a consultant for iste, writing lessons for an ISTE/Microsoft collaboration. " "I want to be an evangelist for technology. One of the major benefits of being a member is it allows me to connect, share and learn with and from educators around the world. From these connections, I am able to develop a global perspective and obtain new knowledge to share and apply in my instructional practices." "
Johnson's dedication to her peers and her profession spans a variety of programs and roles. As a consultant with The Learning Collective based in Los Angeles, she has helped develop technology integration plans and strategies for use across the nation. And through her work at the Bureau of Educational Research, she provides professional development for other library media specialists.
Johnson clearly has a keen understanding of technology and its power. And while she is driven by a need to continue to grow professionally and share her knowledge with others, she also knows these are only skills to serve a greater purpose. She never loses sight of the real goal.
" "My heart is with the students," " she says. " "I want to give all students access to resources and help make them globally competitive citizens. Technology is a powerful vehicle that can facilitate any dreams or wishes they have. I love teaching. I love technology. And I love students. I'm so fortunate they all merge together." "
And by the way, Johnson's custom license plate on her tricked-out ride is " "BRN2TCH." " Of course it is.