Jennifer “Jenny” Johnson

Director of Teacher Preparation and Development, College of Education

Jennifer “Jenny” Johnson

What year did you start at NIU? 1992

Where is your hometown, and where do you live now?
My father was in the military, so I had several hometowns. I was born in Battle Creek, Mich., and spent two years in Okinawa, Japan, before settling in El Paso, Texas, at the age of 4. Our family moved to Batavia when I was in fourth grade, so my heart says that Batavia is my hometown. My husband and I moved to Geneva in 1991 and have lived there happily ever after.

Describe your typical day — what do you do while at work? 
That would be a Lifetime channel miniseries! The short answer is I support clinical field experiences in the College of Education, develop and foster school-university partnerships and work to provide engaged learning experiences above and beyond the already rigorous required program-area field experiences for pre-service teachers. I also serve as advisor for our NIU collegiate chapter of Educators Rising, which is super exciting!

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn? 
I received my undergraduate degree from Illinois State University and my graduate degree from Northern Illinois University.

Were you ever undecided, and/or did you change majors?
I wasn’t undecided. I started as a Special Education major (deaf and hard of hearing) and finished four years later. As I grew as an educator, my focus expanded to include elementary, secondary and early childhood education.

What advice would you give to students either just starting their college journey or currently attending NIU?
Don’t worry — it will all work out as it is supposed to!

What do you like about working at NIU?
I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to meet and work with so many amazing people involved in preparing our future teachers.

What is your favorite campus event?
I love any event that brings students together, but Homecoming is probably my favorite!

What is your favorite memory of NIU? 
Honestly, it’s the friendships. The experiences I have shared with the friends I have made at NIU are my favorite memories.

What’s the most important thing you could tell a prospective student about NIU? 
You will never regret becoming a Huskie!

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path? 
A deaf educator. Well, I am still teaching! As I grew as an educator, my focus expanded to include elementary, secondary and early childhood education. I don’t believe my path changed as much as where I thought it would lead me. When I began my journey, I thought I would be teaching deaf pre-preschoolers (and I did), but I have also taught hearing collegians. You never know where your journey will take you, and I have enjoyed every step!

Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU? 
I belong to NAPDS (National Association of Professional Development Schools), ATE (Association of Teacher Educators), Educators Rising and IACTE (Illinois Association of College Teacher Educators). I am also an ATE Clinical Practice Fellow.

What community organizations are you involved in? 
When my children were younger, I held leadership positions in Geneva School District 304 PTO organizations and sports boosters.

What do you do to relax or recharge? 
Yoga and running! I live by my charts! 


Jennifer “Jenny” Johnson is the Director of Teacher Preparation and Development, College of Education.

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