Scholarship Celebrates Life of Respected and Loved Elementary Teacher
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Scholarship Celebrates Life of Respected and Loved Elementary Teacher

April 19, 2018

Quick Facts

bullet point Cindy Johnson '76, ˜78, an elementary school teacher, spent 30 years teaching fourth and fifth grades at Sunset Park and Richmond Drive elementary schools.
bullet point The Cindy McDaniel Johnson Endowed Scholarship will provide an inaugural scholarship award of $2,000 this fall to a talented junior majoring in elementary education.

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Cindy Johnson

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA -- Cindy Johnson '76, ˜78 may have had four biological sons, but her children numbered in the hundreds.

The elementary school teacher spent 30 years teaching fourth and fifth grades at Sunset Park and Richmond Drive elementary schools and mothered all of her students.

"They were all her kids, and she loved and valued them for who they uniquely were, not just what she wanted them to be or do," said Pat Maness, her principal at Richmond Drive.

When Johnson passed away Nov. 30, 2017, Maness delivered the eulogy at her funeral and described a woman who made a huge difference in her world. "Her affect, demeanor, attitude and character were open, honest and consistent every day," the principal said. "She came early, worked too late and delivered on what she promised."

Knowing the value his wife put on education, Johnson's husband, Ben ˜78, has decided that her legacy would include a Winthrop University endowed scholarship for aspiring teachers.

The Cindy McDaniel Johnson Endowed Scholarship will provide an inaugural scholarship award of $2,000 this fall to a talented junior majoring in elementary education.

Ben Johnson called his wife a woman of steady grace and compassion who taught as much by example as by instruction. "Over the years, she encouraged hundreds of students to see the best in themselves and in each other, and to live lives of purpose and respect," he said.

She worked with students on the basics such as reading, math, science and social studies, and made sure they learned all the states and capitals. "The most important lesson in her fourth grade class, though, was about responsibility and that same lesson was taught every day," Maness said of the woman who had a gift as the "Boy Whisperer."

"She wanted kids and parents to know they could stumble and fall and pick themselves up and move on. It's not how you messed up but what you could learn from it."

To the educators who taught with Johnson, she was the ultimate champion of her students. She also mentored young teachers and helped Maness solve a complex issue when he wanted to talk out solutions.

After retiring from teaching in 2013, Johnson spent more time on her hobbies — reading, cooking and gardening — and with her family members. She particularly enjoyed hiking in the mountains and exploring the outdoors. In the last few years, she became an enthusiastic potter.

Also important to her was her church, St. John's United Methodist Church in Rock Hill.

Even though Cindy Johnson never sought the spotlight, Ben Johnson said she approved of this scholarship to help the next generation of teachers.

To donate to the Cindy McDaniel Johnson Endowed Scholarship, visit www.winthrop.edu/advancement/make-a-gift.aspx, or contact the Winthrop University Foundation at 803/323-2229.


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Last Updated: 8/1/19