The morning of Dec. 8 was a day of shock and grief as we arrived at the college (Sampson Community College) to learn of the untimely death of our colleague, Dale C. Johnson, who led the Academy of Continuing Excellence (ACE) at our Roseboro Center.
For those unfamiliar with ACE, this program is dedicated to the nurturing and education of special needs adults living in Sampson and surrounding counties. Some of the students have developmental disabilities, some have physical limitations, and some experience both. In the eyes of college staff who work with these students, they are a special gift of God and we are blessed with the ability to touch and be touched by them on a daily basis. Though they are adults, in our eyes, they are our beloved children.
The Roseboro students were Dale Johnson’s special children and each unquestionably knew the degree to which they were loved. Dale possessed the God-given ability and passion enabling him to see, nurture and celebrate the inner beauty and unique abilities of each student.
A visit to his Roseboro classroom was always an uplifting experience that made one feel happy just for having been there. While the outside of the Center is rather drab and nondescript, upon entering you are immediately surrounded by an explosion of color, cultural enrichment, and creativity that stimulate all of your senses. Many of the items that decorate his classroom, Dale contributed on this own dime because he wanted a beautiful learning environment for students and staff. I loved visiting his classroom, and on each and every visit, I found Dale and all of his staff actively engaged in individual or group activities that enabled every student to realize a degree of accomplishment and a sense of pride. Lessons were always joyful, interactive, and ultimately meaningful.
How we will fill the big shoes of Dale we have yet to determine; however, the footprints he made on each of our hearts will remain forever. My prayer this Christmas is that God will comfort the hearts our students and staff who are grieving and that our public schools children will be blessed with teachers who possess the passion, creativity, and love of students that Dale Johnson exemplified every day.
I am a far better person for having known him.
SCC Dean of