The Fort Bend American Association of University Women recently honored Don and Penny Johnson of Missouri City as their 2019 Educators of the Year.
The Johnsons are retired Fort Bend ISD teachers. Don spent the last 12 years of a 41-year career teaching 5th grade at Colony Bend Elementary, while Penny was a long time kindergarten teacher at Lantern Lane. But they didn’t stop teaching when they retired a few years ago.
On the first Monday of every month, they release emerging butterflies grown at the Houston Museum of Natural Science into the Cockerill Butterfly Center rain forest and explain the process to visitors.
For this year’s Earth Day, they taught 4th and 5th graders about pollinators and de-composers. Penny specializes in pollinators like butterflies, bees and beetles. Don does de-composers: worms, ants, termites and more beetles. But they can easily switch hats. Penny’s de-composer worms are kept under their kitchen sink handy for recycling food scraps and for a trip to the next event.
When not teaching children, they bring their wide knowledge of insect life to adults. They present on the benefits of composting, often for Missouri City Green, where some of Penny’s former kindergarteners are now active leaders in keeping the environment green and clean.
Don and Penny are the go-to entomology trainers for local Master Gardeners’ groups and the Coastal Prairie Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists. The Masters groups do outreach at school science events county-wide. Don and Penny bring caterpillars, butterflies and expertise to share with enthusiasm.