February Spotlight—Alanna Johnson, English Teacher, West Babylon High School
Method Test Prep Spotlight seeks to highlight MTP clients, friends, and acquaintances who are doing amazing things in education. For each installment of the Spotlight, we will select a dedicated individual or organization to profile, and will then interview the awardee to share their story. Through the Spotlight, we hope to develop a bank of successful experiences and practices for other schools and educators to learn from.
This month’s Method Test Prep Spotlight features an educator with whom I have a personal connection that spans almost four decades, from our time together in kindergarten and Little League to our distinct paths into education. Alanna Johnson—an English teacher at West Babylon High School in West Babylon, NY since 2001 and recent recipient of a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Fairfield University—is a rock star. Whether tackling 100-mile cycling races, playing saxophone in a teacher talent contest, competing on the basketball court or softball diamond, or teaching in her classroom, Alanna exhibits a distinct passion for life that enriches all those around her.
Well aware of the advantages conferred by strong ACT and SAT scores, Alanna has worked hard to educate her students about college admissions exams. Initially, she sought to simply familiarize students with the prep tools available to them. She was surprised to learn that her students lacked basic knowledge about the ACT and SAT, and, furthermore, that they were unaware that they had access to Method Test Prep’s powerful prep tools. Alanna chose to incorporate MTP’s ACT and SAT prep program into her teaching, finding great value in her district’s decision to purchase the software for its students. She regularly shares her success with her English department colleagues, encouraging wider adoption of the program at her school.
Alanna recognizes that today’s students are “digital natives,” already comfortable with online learning—indeed, they take to Method Test Prep very quickly. She is also acutely aware that her students’ schedules are increasingly busy, a reality that encourages her to inject the program wherever she can. For example, when students grow restless during the final ten minutes of class, it’s a great time to have them work on MTP’s Vocabulary Builder. Alanna also takes advantage of the program’s reporting features to pinpoint her students’ strengths and weaknesses on both class-wide and individual levels. "Once I show the students the graphs and charts of their individual progress, their participation increases exponentially. Showing them their individual data sort of speaks their language,” she says. Alanna understands that the lecture-based teaching format of old is just that—a thing of the past. She loves that the program promotes active student work and provides valuable real-time feedback.
In addition, Alanna believes that MTP is a real boon to her students’ college application process; those who have used the program know they’ve done all they could to optimize their standardized test scores, a fact that relieves a good deal of their stress. She also finds that programs like MTP increase her efficiency, allowing her to spend more time teaching and working with students and less time grading. And because MTP reinforces skills that apply well beyond standardized test taking, the program proves to be useful regardless of whether Alanna is teaching an ACT- or SAT-specific class.
It is particularly gratifying to highlight an educator so curious, creative, and dedicated as Alanna. I’m proud to call her a close friend, and even prouder of the positive impact she’s having on the next generation. To know that our program has been a part of Alanna’s success is the ultimate reward.
More About Alanna:
Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: All of the amazing students I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years
Q: Do you have a job related memory or event that stands out as particularly rewarding?
A: Recently a student with Down’s Syndrome has started at the high school and although I don’t have him in class, he high-fives me on his way to 2nd period. It started the first week of school one day after I had a particularly challenging day in the classroom with no air-conditioning. He walked by me on hall duty during ninth period and high-fived me out of nowhere, and it made my day. It’s nice to support each other.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I like to run, cycle and play tennis. I also write fiction.
Q: How do you like to spend your summers or vacation time?
A: I'm a beach gal, so I try to read on the beach as much as I can. The past two summers I've completed writing workshops on Ender's Island, CT. And swimming, of course
Thanks again to Alanna Johnson for being a shining example of great things happening in education!
If you would like to nominate an individual or organization working with MTP to be considered for a Spotlight Award, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Spotlight. Please also share this story with people in education as well as with parents and other interested parties!