Johnson has passion for shop class

By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist

At Thompson Middle School, Julius Johnson has been the seventh-eighth grade industrial arts teacher since 1995. A quiet but dedicated teacher who has a real interest in his subject and students, Johnson is eager to talk about his class.

Julius Johnson has been teaching the industrial arts class at Thompson Middle School for many years. (Contributed)

Julius Johnson has been teaching the industrial arts class at Thompson Middle School for many years. (Contributed)

“We have a room full of students that love to plan and to build,” he said. “They build a variety of items to include model cars or dragsters, rockets, clocks, boats and bridges.”

When I asked if middle school students were receptive to his class or just looking for an easy course to take, Johnson said, “No easy A here – They are the ones who decide the grade they will receive by the project they come up with and the honest hours of work they put into the project. We get along well and all work together.”

In addition to the standard classroom, the attached shop contains all manner of equipment for construction of the actual models. A large exhaust fan is in place to draw the residual sawdust from the room. The whole atmosphere looks very professional and authentic.

Born in 1962 in Montgomery, Johnson was locally educated and then attended Alabama A&M where he received his degree in 1987. His first job after college was in Charlotte, N.C. (near one of his sisters). Later he came to the Birmingham City School System to teach at Bush Middle School for five years before making the move to the Alabaster area.

“I was ready for a strong school system and found it at Thompson Middle School” said Johnson.

After 18 years at TMS, Johnson is known for his “contests” among the students to further tweak their interest in their work. Determined students work diligently to produce the best clock, lamp or whatever the object of the contest might be. Seeing the competition between the students is one of Johnson’s favorite teaching moments.

Johnson lives in Alabaster with his wife Evadne, a registered nurse, and their two sons, William 15, and Nicholas, 13.

It’s a bit early for retirement plans, but Johnson thinks his own woodworking shop would be really neat. Seems like Johnson really has a passion for his field of choice.