Mikaela's Wake Up Call

The Time of Their Lives

The hallways were short and always smelled of sawdust and cleaning solution at the beginning of the school year.  Whitish cinder blocks made up the walls with a backdrop of gray lockers.  I always worried from 6th grade on that I would forget my combination to that black and silver lock.  As though somehow the numbers would get lost somewhere in my brain when I twisted that ridged dial between my fingers.

The carpet was as thin as it could be and rough, dark brown I think.  Or maybe gray too.  I’m not sure.  It’s been 20 years ago.  The windows in Mrs. Grady or Mr. Smith’s classroom folded wide open because we had no air conditioning system in this old building and ink splats stained the desks that probably existed from 20 years before, because we didn’t have a lot of money in my school district.

At the same time, some of the most creative and inspired moments in my young life happened at Johns Hill Magnet School.

I remember standing on the hill before school with our Eastland boat shoes with ties in the perfect curlicue and Esprit backpacks slung on our shoulders and falling just on the back of our hips.  The teal sparkle of our show choir tops under the light of the auditorium during a dress rehearsal, the spot light on the old stage and our books resting on the dark wood chairs below that no doubt were bolted into the floors sometime in the 1950s.  The drama between parents about us reading The Chocolate War in our “gifted” English class that I wasn’t really supposed to know about in 8th grade.  I could on and on about middle school.

I learned so much about what I do now in college, had some wonderful teachers in high school that helped me focus, but middle school was truly a magical time for me.  I ran into one of our old P.E. teachers from Johns Hill when I was home recently at a salon and we were recounting a few memories.  The teachers that taught us, apparently still hang out together on vacation in the Ozarks!  Who knew?

The students they were so passionate about teaching are all over the country. 

One owns his own insurance company in Florida.  Another was recently the Western Regional Director for a well-known vodka company, working in Arizona.  One is an Informatics Pharmacist at a big hospital in Houston.  Another is a writer and professor in Seattle.  And another is a TV anchor and reporter in Ohio. And that’s just a sampling from some of my close friends from back then—it’s amazing what you can learn on LinkedIn!


When you look at my 8th grade graduating class, there are a lot of success stories… we’ve been very fortunate.  But if I truly consider it, we were fortunate to go to Johns Hill.

I will always remember how we carried Social Studies class all day—because we dressed up as monks and couldn’t talk while we were learning about the Middle Ages.  The excitement of winning back money in the stock market after the Crash of ‘29, which we pretended we were in the midst of in another class.  I learned to love learning.

It’s because of this background that I am so excited to be taking part in an education project here at NBC 4.  “For Your Education” airs Wednesday night at 7 p.m. and our target audience is middle school and high school students.  We are going to be talking about how your student can best tap into their passion and talents now, to build a great career path later.  I had a chance to talk to top administrators in the state of Ohio for this special, specialists who focus on childhood development in and out of the classroom, and teachers who are inspiring their children every day.

My final year at Johns Hill, I did a project on what I wanted “to be” and my top three college choices to make that happen.  I wrote that I wanted to be a Broadcast Journalist and my top college choice was the University of Missouri.  I am very proud to say that those dreams, typed out on a word processor at the time in the late 80s/early 90s, came true.  I know not everyone knows at that age what they want to do with their lives, but I’ve found they do have the tools and resources at their fingertips to learn more about the best path for their future.

So, I hope you join us Wednesday night at 7 p.m.  We’ll have live experts on hand to talk to you on the phone or through an interactive web chat.  We can help guide our children to their best career path.  And we can start that process right now.

Posted by  on 08/30 at 10:02 AM



Sometimes you look back and you realize how blessed you were to be part of a great school with passionate teachers. It’s truly sad that the state of the educational system is so uneven. It’s nice to see that you achieved the dreams you set for yourself during that time though.

Kind regards,

Maria König
Blumen Geschenk

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