Ms. Julia Johnson serves our youngest students as the Director of Lower School Counseling. She joined the Rabun Gap community in 2019.
Ms. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Western Carolina University and worked with the North Carolina Department of Social Services for nine years before coming to Rabun Gap.
Ms. Johnson lives locally with her husband Matt and their daughter Lorelai. Her sister, Ms. Ashley Burnett, works at Rabun Gap as a Middle School Spanish teacher. Ms. Johnson enjoys walking and hiking outdoors with her family and dogs and reading.
“From the first day I walked on campus I felt nothing but an overwhelming sense of community and love,” said Ms. Johnson. “Working here is like being a part of a family, and the absolute best family there is. I love the diverse culture and how once you step inside the gate you are transformed into a whole new world.”
What made you choose to work at Rabun Gap?
Growing up I always wondered what Rabun Gap was like behind the gates. I drove past our beautiful school my entire life but never dreamt that I would get to work here. So, when the opportunity presented itself to work in the Lower School as the School Counselor, it was truly like a dream come true. Not only do I get to love and support students as they learn, but I get to be immersed in one of the best educational communities there is. There was no question as to whether or not I wanted to work here.
What makes Rabun Gap special to you?
Rabun Gap is such a special place and there are so many things that make it such. The diverse community, the feeling of family everywhere you go, the gorgeous mountainous setting, and the welcoming of all narratives is unlike no other. I feel so blessed to work here.
What do you like most about working with Lower School students?
I love that everyday is a new adventure at the Lower School. You truly never know what each day holds, and that to me is so exciting! Watching children learn, grow and explore is an incredibly special thing; and there is no greater feeling than knowing that I get to play a part in that. I love coming in every morning to the smiles, hugs, and endless stories that are told. We have the best students in the world!
Why did you decide to get into counseling?
I have always dreamt of working in an educational setting in some capacity. When I was choosing my undergraduate degree, I was torn between becoming a teacher or a social worker. I chose to pursue social work as I wanted to help those who did not always have a voice to help themselves. I wanted to serve my community members as a whole and felt that as a social worker, that was how I was best suited to do so. I love that I have been able to gain knowledge and experience in working with people of all ages through my time at the Department of Social Services. After having my daughter though, it became harder and harder to stay objective in Child Welfare. When the opportunity presented itself to use my skill set in an educational setting, I was beside myself with happiness. I had always wanted to become the source of support for students no matter what they were facing and be their “person” while at school. I wanted to be able to use my knowledge of child development, at-risk situations, and my love to serve in a place where I could watch children grow. I feel that I have found that here.
What were you like in lower school?
When I think of what I was like as a lower school student, all I can picture is colorful leggings with matching tunic tops, big bangs that had been curled and sprayed, scrunchies, and large-brimmed plastic glasses. I was always reading, writing, coloring and making something. One of my favorite things to do was to cut out pictures in magazines and make collages. My mother devoted the walls of our hallway to my creative side, as she was tired of re-painting over every “masterpiece” of mine. I may look a little different now, but I still love to create and craft now as much as I did then!
What is your favorite memory from the time you have worked here so far?
My favorite memory thus far has to be Rock Your School Day. The Administrative Team at the Lower School dressed up as rock stars, which was hilarious! I never thought I’d come to school with a mullet and leather pants on. It was so much fun watching the students be challenged without them even realizing it. The classroom transformations and activities were unparalleled. I was so impressed!
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I would say that an interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t know from my resume is that I was on an episode of “Say Yes to the Dress Bridesmaids” on TLC with some of my sorority sisters. It was quite the experience and made me realize just how fake reality TV is!