Pride in Elizabeth

Friends and classmates surprised Tracy Area High School ag teacher and FFA advisor Elizabeth Johnson with a special send-off Saturday. The decorated teacher left for New Orleans on Tuesday to accept the Outstanding Early Career Teacher Award. Photo / Per Peterson

Nationally-recognized ag teacher is guest of honor at surprise party

By Per Peterson

How close was Tracy Area High School ag teacher and FFA advisor Elizabeth Johnson to returning to her high school in Sleepy Eye after landing in Tracy?

“We actually tried to get her to come back to Sleepy Eye when we had an opening — there was no way she was leaving Tracy,” said Johnson’s high school FFA advisor Mary Hoffman, who was part of a “This is Your Life” moment Saturday night, as friends, family and students surprised Johnson with a special send-off at The Caboose. Johnson on Tuesday traveled to New Orleans to receive her Outstanding Early Career Teacher Award.

Hoffman came to Sleepy Eye at the start of Johnson’s freshman year. Their relationship started with the Timberland Camp and quickly blossomed from there. It wasn’t long after that Hoffman realized what kind of person her protege was.

“That was our first time together, so I’ve known her for 16 years,” said Hoffman. “She has always had the drive and motivation to do great things. In high school, she was a national proficiency finalist, she won the Costa Rica trip one year — she came back and told me all about the trip and that I should’ve gone. I did have another opportunity to go and went, probably on Elizabeth’s advice.

Saturday’s surprise was a hit, as Johnson had no idea what was going on, or what she was walking into. She arrived at The Caboose after taking part in that evening’s lighted parade.

“Total surprise,” she said. “I’m so grateful to be in Tracy and work with such amazing people. The community definitely supports the ag program. I just really enjoy coming to work every day and working with the kids.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.