Longtime Fishburne Military School instructor retires from classroom duties

Fishburne Military SchoolAt the conclusion of the Fishburne Military School 2018 Summer Session, longtime instructor and mentor, Susan J. Johnson, announced that she would be leaving the classroom.

Although the 35-year veteran of the FMS faculty – affectionately known as “Mrs. J.” by at least two generations of cadets, parents and alumni – will no longer be conducting classes, she stressed that she will not be officially retiring, nor will she be completely severing ties with the school.  Johnson will continue to serve the school by assisting with the interior selections and furnishings for soon-to-be-constructed Hitt-Millar Field House and will continue speaking to civic-minded organizations like the DAR about the importance of Fishburne Military School. Johnson will continue to counsel educators and schools and notes that for her “returning letter men” and their parents, she will always be a phone call away.

Johnson first came to Fishburne Military School in 1983 as a temporary substitute teacher for Fishburne’s legendary English instructor and long-serving Superintendent, Colonel E.B. Young, Jr. She was soon added to the staff in a full-time position in the English department. In the late 1990s, Johnson began to take on greater administrative duties, becoming the school’s first Cadet Advocate, and later, Assistant Superintendent.

In 1997, Johnson was honored with Fishburne Military School’s Stroehmann Award, named in honor of longtime trustee David Stroemann, Sr., in recognition of excellence and innovation in the classroom. She was later named as a Stroehmann Master Teacher by the School.

During three points in her career at Fishburne, Johnson temporarily took up the mantle of leadership as acting head-of-school and is recognized as the first woman to head a military school in the United States. Perhaps her greatest accomplishment as an administrator came when – with little advance notice – she was placed in command of the School. Over a six-week period, Johnson guided the school through its 10-year major accreditation review (resulting in 100% approval with no deficiencies), oversaw a major JROTC inspection (during which the school retained its designation as an Honor Unit with Distinction), directed Alumni Weekend and graduation, all of which were executed flawlessly. While Johnson was quick to credit the faculty, staff and Corps of Cadets, they credited her ability to rally the entire Fishburne family, always leading by example.

President of the Fishburne-Hudgins Educational Foundation, Inc., Mr. Edward C. “Ted” Moroney, expressed gratitude for her many years of service to the school, noting, “Mrs. J. loved the classroom, the challenge, the learning, and most of all the progress of her cadets. Over the years, she adopted many personas to the corps depending on circumstances. Sometimes beloved, other times hated, she was the constant holder of the line, the person who cared enough to make you do what you didn’t want to do because in the long run it would make you a better person.”

Fishburne Military School’s Superintendent, Captain Mark E. Black, US Navy (Retired), explained that although her classes would no longer convene, “Mrs. Johnson’s impact upon the culture, processes and philosophies at Fishburne Military School is indelible. Although she may no longer be assigning homework, the lessons Susan Johnson taught to Cadets and Faculty alike will always remain part of the Fishburne experience.”

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