By Marj Frew
The school year of 1997-1998 saw a beginning, and an end. Shar Johnson was beginning her teaching career as the fourth through eighth grade teacher at Tuthill School, as the school itself was coming to a close. Shar recalled many memories as we visited recently about her upcoming retirement after 21 years in the Bennett County School System.
“At Tuthill, I was known as the Snake Getter, because I had all of those older boys, and whether it was a garter snake, or a blue slider, they would not go near them! We would get them in the basement of the school once in a while. When the moms who were there helping at lunch time would see one, they would come and get me, because none of the boys would go near them!” She remembers Belinda Ready telling her, “That’s fine, but if it’s a bull snake, you leave it alone!” Ahh, the joys of country school!
Following the closing of the Tuthill school, Shar taught kindergarten at Martin Grade School for five years. She then was relocated to Riverside School, where she taught the last two years of its existence. First, teaching kindergarten through second, and then kindergarten through third grades. The closing of Riverside brought her back to Martin Grade School, where she has taught first grade for the remainder of her career.
Shar and her young daughter, Lindsay, moved to Martin many years ago from eastern South Dakota. She was raised in Sioux Falls, and attended Community College in Sioux Falls. She continued her schooling to earn a degree in Wildlife Management at South Dakota State University in Brookings. She later attended Dakota State University in Madison, where she earned her degree in Elementary Education. She jokingly likes to say, “I just traded one wild animal for another!”
Following her retirement, Shar is looking forward to moving back to Brookings, in order to be close to family. Her daughter lives in Brookings, and her parents and a brother live in Hartford. “It will be nice to be a little bit closer to them.”
“We’ve had a lot of fun and good times. I’ve had a lot of neat kids that I will miss, but I’m excited for the move. As soon as I get settled, I’m going to adopt a dog. I’m really looking forward to that! I’ve been waiting a long time to be able to do that.”