• Richland One Employee Profiles

    Johannes Linnan, Richland One Music Teacher

    The Music, the Morale and the Motivation: Brockman’s Linnan Sings Richland One Praises

    Johannes Linnan conducts music class at Brockman Elementary SchoolIn his laid-back manner, Johannes Linnan stirringly shares the stories of how he attended Brockman Elementary School as a child and has now returned to teach music. A chance meeting in the grocery store between his mother and one of his elementary teachers led to Linnan playing music at a graduation in Richland One. Though he knew he would teach music after graduating college in 2016, Linnan had no idea his music would steer him back to Brockman.

    “While at graduation, I met with the former music teacher who told me she was moving to a new position in the district and introduced me to the principal,” said Linnan. “I applied and was happy to become part of the Richland One team.”

    Linnan brought with him mastery level skills in nearly every classification of instruments including string, woodwind and percussion. He trained in guitar, piano and voice and is proficient in playing banjo, clarinet, flute, ukulele and violin.

    His affinity for music started at six years old while attending Brockman, which provided him with various opportunities to engage with the arts. “We had choir, afterschool guitar classes and African drumming classes,” said Linnan. “It was really a fantastic experience.” 

    It’s an experience he now tries to impart to his students.

    “I have always enjoyed making music and sharing my knowledge with others,” said Linnan. “My music teachers also have had an immense impact on my life.”

    The list of the names of those who influenced his musicality is vast and includes former voice, chorus, choir, piano and band teachers and professors. Linnan said the district has allowed for continued cultivation, providing unparalleled resources.

    From hard-copy and online textbooks with a district pacing guide to direct the curriculum, to field experiences like Carnegie Hall concerts and the Nutcracker ballet, the opportunities for development abound, according to Linnan.

    While all of these amenities contribute immensely to the learning process, Linnan said it is the staff – his colleagues – who provide invaluable support in ensuring the instruction and resources meld well enough to make a lasting impact.

    He credits the school’s lead teachers and the Theatre Services Department with making learning enjoyable for educators, students and parents alike. Linnan said even Richland One Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon joined in the fun one year, playing the saxophone with Brockman’s choir.

    “I treasure the great collegial atmosphere of my school most,” said Linnan.

    He says the leadership of Principal Sharonda Giles and Assistant Principal Victoria Garrick has “cultivated an atmosphere where we work together to create a safe and gently challenging place for the students to grow and become the young adolescents we know they can when they bridge to middle school.”

    It’s not that they always agree, it is that they respect each other’s viewpoints, said Linnan.

    “We really trust that whatever minute logistical details those rare disagreements may be about, all of us have the children’s best interests at heart, and we are coming from a respectful place of professionalism and care,” said Linnan. “We acknowledge each other's expertise and experience, and work together to find the best solution.”

    It’s the same thing in the classroom. Linnan said every student brings their own experiences to the music room.

    “Though I strive to be as aware as possible, I am certain that I may not even be entirely conscious of all the ways that working with my wonderful students has made me a better teacher, musician and person,” he added.


    Sally McCants, Richland One Teacher of the Year

    Richland One Teacher of the Year Steeped in District’s History

    Sally McCants (Teacher of the Year) Interacts with StudentBuilt in 1925, Rosewood Elementary School is a staple in the city of Columbia. Among the first students to attend was the grandmother of Richland One’s 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year Sally McCants.

    She recalls her grandmother speaking of Rosewood Drive, where the school was located, which back then was called Fifth Avenue. Chock full of the details of the stories of many of that day, her grandmother spoke of the two-lane dirt road traveled by those who would be her classmates. Then, McCants recalled how her mother and other post-war Baby Boomers, in gleeful succession, overran the classrooms of the same school in the 1950s.

    Some 30 years later, it was McCants’ turn. Not only does she have three daughters who graced the halls of Rosewood, but she is teaching in the very classroom where she was taught in the 1980s.

    “What can I say? We are Richland One Strong,” said McCants. “I call Columbia my lifelong home. I was raised in Columbia, my family has lived in the same Columbia neighborhood for four generations.”

    She even obtained her degree from the school that bore the city’s name – Columbia College. The fifth grade teacher of English/language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and health has been employed in Richland One for 22 years, 12 of which have been at Rosewood.

    Though McCants contends she selected the profession herself, it just may be that teaching beckoned for her.

    “This was my chosen profession long before I recognized it. As a young girl, I played school and pretended to be the teacher,” said McCants. “I loved how I could share my knowledge with my friends, teddy bears and dolls.”

    These days, her students are anything but inanimate. Recently, during a lesson on antonyms, the students, in a round-robin approach, circled the classroom as they recited words that meant the opposite of the word on the cards in their hands. This happens not to be an uncommon occurrence in McCants’ classroom, and she credits planning as the key to her innovative teaching style.

    “I’m awake at 4:45 a.m., in my classroom by 6:45 a.m. and in the hall greeting my students at 7:25 a.m.,” said McCants. “Before I leave my classroom for the evening, I make sure my classroom and plans are ready for the next day. I am a firm believer that being prepared and organized is a crucial part of professionalism and makes for confident teaching.”

    Of the profession, McCants is hopeful that despite the challenges, more people are drawn to teaching.

    “There is a love of education in everyone’s heart,” said McCants. “We need to reach those emotions and create windows and mirrors for those individuals to remember the importance, the value, and significance of educators in their own lives and that of others.”

    Richland One embodied two great loves for McCants. She was able to fulfill her passion to teach, and she met her husband while doing so. He teaches at Hand Middle School and served as Richland One’s 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year.

    The district and its schools foster a culture of connectivity, said McCants. Though large, Richland One is not too big for lasting bonds based on collaboration, friendships and trust to evolve, she added.




    Lisa Flores, 2020-2021 Classified Employee of the Year
    Speaks the Language of Richland One

    Lisa Flores - District Classified Employee of the YearIt is just after lunchtime and the flags of Cuba, Germany, Lebanon, Mexico and various other parts of the world adorn the classroom at Hand Middle School where Lisa Flores is an instructional assistant working with students who are English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL).

    The Latin words on the painted ceiling tiles serve as epitaphs of encouragement in a rather typical fashion for a classroom where English is deemed the second language. On this day, the unassuming Flores opens with journal writing in English, followed by SMART board exercises, also in English. One by one, the students approach the board for a grammar lesson and have no trouble getting the correct answers.

    “You don't have to be fluent in another language in order to communicate with those who do not speak English, but it can be useful,” said Flores, who does speak Spanish. “The goal is to help our students become stronger in speaking, writing and reading in English.”

    This includes learning activities such as phonics, the use of rebus charts and the selection of age-appropriate books, she adds. Integrating those activities into a way of life is crucial, according to Flores.

    “It often goes beyond the classroom because we are the ones they come to when they are in need in real life,” she said.

    They even serve as support for parents, helping with interactions and understanding what their children are doing in school. It is a privilege Flores credits Richland One with providing.

    “The district is supportive of its employees and recognizing that what we are doing is important,” said Flores, who has been in Richland One 26 years and is the district’s 2021-2022 Classified Employee of the Year. “I've met and worked with some amazing people, and the students have definitely kept things interesting.”

    For those who are thinking of becoming a part of the district, Flores said volunteering and serving as a substitute teacher are ways to determine if education is the career choice for them – that’s how she began.

    “My son’s class was making a quilt and they needed volunteers that knew how to sew with a needle and thread and be able to teach the students,” said Flores. “I enjoyed it so much that I continued to volunteer, which eventually led to applying for a position that became available.”

    There are many career opportunities in teaching and non-teaching areas, all of which are very important, said Flores. She contends that the success of the student is the district's priority and to be part of it is what education is all about.