Humans of CHC: Ms. Kim Johnson, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), Marine Biology, and Freshman Biology Teacher

Background: Growing up in Moorhead City and living in the Atlantic Beach area, Mrs. Johnson learned to hunt, fish, crab, and love whatever wasn’t inside of a building. She attended Havelock High School, and went to Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. Kim earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology and then stayed for her Master’s degree in Environmental Science. After working mainly on studying Ornithology, Kim went to get her teaching certification and, after being a substitute for First Colonial and Cape Henry while working on her Master’s thesis, she became a teacher at Cape Henry.


A burning passion for environmental and the outdoor studies, ornithology, the study of birds, and marine biology being her two top areas of expertise, formulated as a result of living at the beach for a large portion of her life. As well as teaching and chaperoning, Ms. J also loves interacting with students. Since she loves listening to live music at concerts, listening to students sing is the next best thing. Also, Kim loves to travel, and chaperones the STRI trip to Panama every year. It allows her to combine most of her top interests, students, singing, traveling, and environmental science. “Each year is different,” she mentioned. Kim continued on to say that each group will do similar things, but each experience is different. It varies with the type of people, some are rowdier, some are more friendly, and some sing more than the others, and this past year’s trip was coupled with a “healthy amount of singing” to aid them on their journeys through the mountains, bus rides, and beaches.


Something most people don’t know about you:

While Ms. J was attending Longwood, another teacher in the Cape Henry Science Department, Mrs. Whitney, attended Longwood simultaneously. The two met each other while at Longwood, but they went their own ways in regards to after college. While Kim went on to get her Master’s, Mrs. Whitney started teaching in Farmville, but then moved on to Cape Henry after a few years of teaching there. Kim is also what she likes to call “a bird nerd,” or in other terms, a scientist interested primarily in studying birds.


Best Experiences:

Kim, being a seasoned traveler, has visited many places like Panama, Shenandoah, and Curçao. While she was in Curçao, she was able to feed sharks, which fascinated her, since she has a deep love for marine life. She was also able to fly a small plane through the Shenandoah Valley during October. Kim recalled seeing the “beauty of fall” as all the leaves were turning orange, red, yellow, and brown as the seasons changed. Although feeding sharks and flying a plane over a mountain range is cool, she said that her best experience was being able to have kids and raising a family. A close second would be seeing her students get excited to learn about science and the things that she is interested in as well.



Of course, getting your masters isn’t a cake walk, so earning that was definitely an achievement. Becoming a teacher, was also not an easy task, neither was the creation of the STRI program, which required intercontinental coordination, planning, funding, and overall support. Then, there’s the biggest challenge of all, getting out of bed. Everyone has trouble with that one every once in a while if not all or most of the time. Even though she’d worked so hard to create such an amazing travel and science program, she claimed that her biggest accomplishment was being able to be a mom.


Tough Experiences and Lessons Learned:

Through many years of teaching, many classes taught, many hours of hiking, many days of traveling, her main lesson learned, and one which she preaches constantly, is to stay true to oneself. Why would you lie to yourself if you want to improve your overall character. She reminded people that humans life is valuable, and that spending time with your family is more important than being online or shopping all of the time.


Hopes and Plans for the Future:

Continuing on her path of Environmental Research and activity, Kim wishes to travel more and to possibly become a nature photographer. As a final goal, she’d love to earn her Ph.D. in something related to environmental science. Along the way, Ms. J wishes to also give a Ted Talk “just so [she] can say that [she] did a Ted Talk.