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Charlotte Talks: South Carolina Primary Preview / CMS Teacher of the Year April Johnson


Monday, June 11, 2018

A preview of key primary contests in South Carolina including that for Governor and a dramatic one in York County. Then, a conversation with one of the most important people in our community - April Johnson - the CMS Teacher of the Year. A former student at Tuckaseegee Elementary, Johnson is now an arts educator there who has a special relationship with her students and a knack for helping them find themselves and their way to success.

Part One: South Carolina Primary Preview

The South Carolina primary is Tuesday and two races are getting a lot of attention. There's a competitive race for the Republican Gubernatorial primary. Incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster, who became governor after Nikki Haley was appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations last year, is being challenged by two other GOP candidates. There are three candidates running in the Democratic primary, though South Carolina voters haven't elected a Democratic governor in almost two decades. 

We venture south to the Palmetto State to preview South Carolina's primary on Tuesday with political scientist Scott Huffmon.

The race for the state's 5th Congressional district, which covers York, Lancaster and Chester counties, is also being closely watched. Incumbent GOP candidate Ralph Norman got himself in hot water when he pulled a gun out to make a point during a meeting with constituents. He barely beat Democratic candidate Archie Parnell in last year's special election.

Three Democratic candidates are vying for the opportunity to face off against Norman in November. Archie Parnell, who was the expected frontrunner, is under fire after it was recently revealed that he abused his first wife in the 1970s. Despite calls to drop out of the race, he will continue with his bid. We'll get a preview of these key South Carolina primary races.

Dr. Scott Huffmon, Professor of political science, Winthrop University; director, Winthrop Poll

Part Two: CMS Teacher of the Year April Johnson

April Johnson works with a student in her arts class at Tuckaseegee Elementary.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools' Teacher of the Year is an arts educator at Tuckaseegee Elementary School. She was also a student there. April Johnson says it doesn’t look much like it did when she was in the 4th and 5th grade. Many of the students live in poverty and as a teacher at a Title I school, where over 70 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch, she recognizes that her students have unique challenges.

"In the arts, everyone can be successful" Johnson says. "For some of my students, art is the only time they are successful all day." 

But she sees arts education as a great equalizer. "In the arts, everyone can be successful" Johnson says. "For some of my students, art is the only time they are successful all day." As a student herself, she struggled academically in high school until she found a passion for creativity and the arts.

She never saw herself as a teacher, until she realized one day that it's her true calling. Now, it’s the kids that keep her in the classroom. "There is no greater honor than helping somebody be who they are supposed to be. There is nothing that matches that feeling." April Johnson joins Mike Collins to talk about arts education and much more.

April Johnson, Arts teacher at Tuckaseegee Elementary. She was named the 2018 Teacher of the Year in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.