Students and parents pay it forward to music teacher

Kristina Johnsen loves teaching kids how to sing and dance at Highland Lakes School in Glendale and it shows."...

Posted: Mar 12, 2018 1:16 PM
Updated: Mar 12, 2018 1:17 PM

Kristina Johnsen loves teaching kids how to sing and dance at Highland Lakes School in Glendale and it shows.

"The part that I love is getting kids that don't have as much confidence, they come in and start realizing they can do stuff, and you then see their whole personality and whole world change," said Johnsen.

But the past few months have been extremely challenging as the West Valley chorus teacher dealt with a number of personal tragedies.

Johnsen's brother and uncle recently passed away, and her mother was in the hospital after a bad fall and several broken bones.

But through it all, Johnsen wanted to "keep it real" with her students and let them know what she was going through.

"I think what was most important, was for them to know it had nothing to do with them, and they can feel like they are coming in, and if they had something going on at home, if they can be truthful and honest then we can work better together as a group," said Johnsen.

Tisha Tulle Webber has a son in Johnsen's class.

They both appreciated her raw honesty and felt compelled to do something to help, so they reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to Johnsen.

"Yes, I am sending out that message that the community loves her," said Webber. "We all love her, and every day you come to work is important to the students and parents."

A CBS 5 news crew followed along when Webber and her son went to surprise Ms. Johnsen at school.

"I actually wanted to let you know that you are definitely appreciated in the community," Webber told Johnsen.

"We wanted to offer you something to help you in your time of need, so with that said, we decided to give you $500 and this is a Pay it Forward. This is yours to spend how you want."

"It's amazing as a teacher, sometimes you forget that you make a difference and how much of a difference you make," said Johnsen.

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