My Favorite Teacher: Chris Johnson

A ROWVA Jr. High School teacher is helping his students become better leaders outside of the classroom.

ROWVA stands for Rio, Oneida, Wataga, Victoria, Altona. It's the five communities that make up the school district in Knox County, Illinois. Teacher Chris Johnson and his former student Kayla Dillbeck have known each other for the past two years. Dillbeck nominated Johnson for a My Favorite Teacher award in January of 2016, sponsored by Western Illinois University Quad Cities (WIU-QC) and Blackhawk Bank and Trust.

"You've always been there for me," Dillbeck told Johnson on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. "You've always told me how to study, and I enjoy that."

After doing poorly on a test in the fall of 2014, Dillbeck went to Johnson for some extra help, outside of class.

"By studying, he's taught me how to highlight throughout the book," Dillbeck said. "He told me how to study the main points, and it's taught me to do that in every class, which has made me a better student."

Dillbeck says she's gone from being a C student to an A student, and Johnson has also helped her become more of a leader, by pushing her to be in the student council for the 2015-2016 school year.

"She's very bright," Johnson said of Dillbeck. "She has some good thoughts, and once she got some confidence, she would speak up, and it would be a really positive thing in class. A lot of that is just encouragement."

Since that time, Dillbeck says she's become a better public speaker. She used that knowledge to surprise Johnson Wednesday. Johnson says that students need to take more risks and challenge themselves to become even better students.

"When you challenge yourself, you run the risk of something not working out," Johnson said. "But I think that more often than not, you find that you find a new interest, a new confidence that you didn't know you had."

Dillbeck received a goody bag from WIU-QC and Blackhawk Bank and Trust for having her teacher nominated. Johnson received a blanket from the university and a $50 Visa gift card from the bank.