A Tribute to Two Teachers and a Case for School Choice

Posted: September 1, 2020 by Brian Johnston

In the last three weeks, I’ve experienced the loss of two teachers that made a difference in countless people’s lives, including mine. Both of these teachers gave everything for their students, working tirelessly to level the playing field. I believe that everyone deserves equality of opportunity, and School Choice helps to make sure that happens. Linda Johnson and Tony Gramling–this Proversation is dedicated to you!

Brian Johnston
Author: Brian Johnston

Author, podcaster, optimist, guardian of The Proversation.


  1. Linda Johnson Obituary
  2. Tony Gramling Obituary
  3. Mother of Good Counsel School
  4. St. Jerome School
  5. Image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay
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  • Linda GRAMLING Reply

    I am Tony’s mother and I would like to thank you for this podcast. Tony loved teaching and his kids.

    • Brian Johnston Reply

      Mrs. Gramling–you are so very welcome. I know this has been a particularly rough year for you and your family. I hope you take at least a little bit of solace in knowing that Tony touched so many people’s lives. Thank you for listening.

  • Carmella Menno Reply

    Thank you for this podcast, Brian. Listening to this I reflected on teachers who have impacted me. I can think of three that were influential in my upbringing and two that I have a personal relationship with now, one being your wife and my cousin. The first one was Mrs. Owen, my 3rd-grade teacher. She was the one that woke me to black issues. At the time I lived in an Italian ghetto of Philadelphia, I went to G Street school where it was all white [Italian’s mostly]. Mrs. Owen would use her AV projector and write about black history and the injustices at the time. I remember very clearly her telling the classroom that “N*gger” means ignorance. Being 8 at the time, I took that meaning quite literal and used the “N” word on a neighbor kid then kicked him in the gonads! My reasoning was that he was ‘ignorant’ so I had no problem calling him that or kicking him “where it counts” as my father told me to do. I soon realized that I took it too literally and applied it in the wrong situation. What that did is opened my eyes to the black culture. It’s ironic to me that I was more in tune with the black culture at the time than my own Italian culture. 3 years later I was abruptly moved to Milwaukee. The next two teachers; Mr. Meniger & Mrs. LaRosa at Mother Of Good Counsel didn’t wake me to anything but were kind and empathetic and made me feel special and not like an outsider. I was dealing with culture shock and an abusive childhood up until that point, so their kindness and making me feel special really went a long way in my development at that point in my childhood. The two teachers in my life now are special women. Ms. Julie is a special-ed MPS teacher who has a 28-year tenure with MPS. She is engaged to Roemel, Roemel is Jim’s high school best friend and current best friend. The four of us do couple things together. Julie usually calls me in a panic to help her with computer technicalities within the MPS system she can’t figure out. I have helped her with a lot of projects throughout the 16 years I have known her. Then there is Rachel, my baby cousin, who is now the current principal at Mother of Good Counsel. I cannot express in words how proud I am of her. Not just because she’s my cousin, or because MGC is my alma mater, but because I have seen her dedication to teaching grow throughout the years. I have seen the long hours and personal money put into school supplies for the kids. I’ve seen it all and it makes me burst with pride knowing she has overcome all the struggles of teaching and extra-time and personal sacrifices into her profession and she is now the principal! I see her overcoming the responsibility of COVID-19 and shouldering that for the good of all involved @ MGC. Again, thank you all teachers, you are appreciated and valued, but a special thank you to the 5 teachers I have listed, especially Mrs. Johnston! ~Carmella~

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