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Diversity in Bullard Staff

Genevieve Soto and Brenda Ruiz

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This is what Mrs. Jennifer Johnstone does best… meeting with students-making sure that they feel included. Mrs. Johnstone volunteered to be a part of a small group of teachers hoping to implement a new way of communicating with teens. Even though she is a new teacher on the Bullard campus, she is not new to connecting with her students through class meetings, advisory, and circles.

Following a harassment incident targeting an LGBTQ+ student, and the posting of a reward leading to the alleged perpetrator, Mrs. Johnstone who is openly gay jumped in to give her assistance. The alleged homophobic attack towards a young girl on campus doesn’t stop Johnstone from being able to express herself in class. She loves the campus and the students.

She tells us, “I am myself wherever I go.” She sees her classroom as a place for mutual respect and she explains, “Differences and disagreements are basically opportunities for people to learn from each other.”

Johnstone is in her eleventh year of teaching English Language Arts. She genuinely enjoys watching her students learn and grow throughout the 180 day school year. As she continues her career at Bullard High, she hopes to be known to be a catalyst for students who don’t feel a part of the Bullard community.

She’s a teacher with, “High expectations but, still kind, energetic, and fun in an environment where students can be successful.” Her least favorite thing about teaching is dealing with negative behavior and having to discipline students.

After school, she picks up her two younger sons, Vaughn and Grayson. Mrs. Johnstone was brought to Fresno on a scholarship to play soccer at Fresno State. She’s very honored to be a support to students and is willing to help anybody.

Johnstone sees discrimination and bigotry as a way to bring forth change. According to her, “I think what has happened has given us an opportunity to make things better. I really believe everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Not talking about only one group of people- I mean everyone has the right to feel and be safe.”

She continues with explaining, “Our job as teachers is to prepare students for life, and students need to understand there are different types of people to be successful in any community you identify with. I think awareness is important because if we’re aware that people are different from us, in the future, when we start building those skills our students are going to be more successful.”

Teachers have started a movement called, “I Am An Ally” in support of all students. Mrs. Johnstone has helped start this movement and asked teachers to show their support by posting placards in their classrooms.

It’s important to be an ally because it is a way to be involved and better your own school community. Mrs Johnstone adds, “Everyone is different.”

It’s hard to know when to intervene or even recognize a problem, and this is why the movement is important according to Bullard Principal Carlos Castillo. Johnstone is part of the principal’s small group of teachers that volunteered to accelerate this movement.

Even at a young age, experts say, bullying can have lasting and damaging consequences, which is why it’s so important for everyone to speak up. They say intimidation, manipulation, bullying, and harassment can lead to depression and anxiety. According to FresnoSOS.com, there were 7 suicides in 2015 of kids ages 10-19.

Mr.Castillo says, “At Bullard, we are trying to establish a safer environment for students and staff.”

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