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SHS teacher recipient of prestigious awards

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Sunnyside High School teacher Monty Johnson, pictured with students in his classroom, has been awarded three different opportunities to advance his learning of American government.

With his intense passion for history, notably the U.S. Constitution, it's no small wonder that Sunnyside High School teacher Monty Johnson has been awarded three prestigious honors to pursue further studies.

Johnson has been awarded a James Madison Memorial Fellowship--a full scholarship for his Master's degree in American history and government.

According to Johnson, only one teacher from each state is selected to receive the scholarship, valued at upwards of $24,000.

Next summer, he'll trek to Georgetown University for a month to study the Constitution. "They pay for books, tuition, room and board...you name it," said Johnson, who describes himself as "ecstatic" regarding the honor.

Another benefit is that Johnson has up to five years to earn his Master's, which is just fine by him. He's going to savor every moment of his ongoing education.

"History is kind of my love," he said. The good thing about being given a time frame of five years is that it will allow him to study in the summer. Previously, Johnson's concern when it comes to pursuing his Master's was having to take a sabbatical or leave or absence. This way, he says, "I'm not in a hurry. I'm going to enjoy them."

Johnson's been studying in the summertime at Ashland University in Ohio since last year. At Ashland, he's been under the tutelage of prestigious professors from West Point, the University of Virginia and Pepperdine.

It's the Pepperdine connection that earned him a seat for the Liberty Fund Colloquium "The Intellectual Foundations of Political Economy," one week of studies in Big Sky, Montana with all expenses paid and a $1,500 stipend. It's a Pepperdine professor Johnson made contact with last year that is a facilitator for the Big Sky event. Only 13 students are selected for the trip, which is via invitation only.

There's a third accolade, too: the Gilder Lehrman Award "The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson," one week of studies at the University of Virginia and Monticello. This also includes room, board, tuition, books and a $400 stipend.

This one's particularly exciting for Johnson. "Jefferson is one of my personal heroes in history," he said. "He was a genius, no question about it. He epitomizes what America is all about.

"He was a renaissance man, multi-faceted. You name it, he was it," Johnson says of the Declaration of Independence author.

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