Recent Harvard graduate returns home to teach at San Juan College

FHS alum Jordan Johnson contributing to local education

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Farmington High School and Harvard University graduate Jordan Johnson has returned this summer to teach a class  at San Juan College.


FARMINGTON — After earning a master's degree from Harvard University, Farmington resident Jordan Johnson is turning her attention to sharing her knowledge with San Juan College students this summer.

Johnson, 23, graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education on May 25, earning a master's degree in prevention science and practice.

She is a Farmington High School graduate and earned a bachelor's degree in applied psychology from New York University in May 2016 but has chosen to return to her hometown for the next couple of months to contribute to education.

One way she is accomplishing that goal is by teaching a four-week course under the alternative licensure program in the School of Humanities at San Juan College. The course, foundations of education, is typically taught by adjunct faculty members and is offered in the spring and summer.

Program coordinator Michael Thompson said the course is required for secondary and elementary teachers, and it focuses on theories in learning and the history of public education while providing an overview of the education system in the United States.

Jordan Johnson, right, is teaching a four-week foundations of education course this summer at San Juan College.


Thompson said students are benefiting from Johnson's interest in critical theories about education, as she is familiar with current methods in education.

"When we get high-quality adjunct faculty, we're happy," Thompson said.

Johnson said the program featured a year of intense study at Harvard that included learning theories such as restorative justice, a method that has educators examine the cause of a student's behavior, rather than incorporating the practice of punishment or suspension.

She was also a member of the student group Future Indigenous Educators Resisting Colonial Education, and she has an interest in developing methods that incorporate Native culture in education.

"In the back of your mind, you're always thinking about how you're going to decolonize education and how you're going to ensure education is by Native people and for Native people," she said.

Jordan Johnson works on her computer Monday at San Juan College in Farmington.


Johnson said her interest in education came watching her mother, Kari Deswood, an assistant professor of English at the college, and her stepfather, Peter Deswood III, the principal at Rocinante High School, develop careers in the field.

"Watching her model what it means to be a resilient woman is something that has always pushed me," Johnson said about her mother.

Her father, Marc Johnson, lives in California and is studying the hospitality industry after a career in the military.

She plans to pursue a doctorate in the future. But for now, Johnson is enjoying being home and gaining experience through teaching.

After Johnson finishes her teaching gig, she plans to move to Austin, Texas, to help a friend operate a nonprofit organization that focuses on addressing the social and emotional needs of low-income students.

Johnson is Tábaahá (Water's Edge Clan), born for 'Áshiihíí (Salt People Clan). Her maternal grandfather clan is Tódích'íi'nii (Bitter Water Clan), and her parental grandfather clan is Táchii'nii (Red Running Into the Water People Clan).

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.