Johansen honored by Title 1 program

POULSBO — When she was in elementary school, Katie Johansen was so shy, and so embarrassed about her reading and writing skills, that she would hide her head in her arms when she wrote.

But thanks to the national Title I program, Johansen learned to read, and write, and eventually, hold her head high.

Johansen graduated from North Kitsap High School, graduated from Olympic College, and now has been selected to represent Washington State as a distinguished Title 1 student.

Johansen credits the help she got thanks to Title 1 for helping her graduate and land a job she loves, working in the Central Market bakery.

Johansen remembers her elementary-school days: “I was struggling,” she said. “I was embarrassed by my reading and writing.”

But the Title 1 program, which uses federal funds to provide intervention for struggling students, came to Johansen’s aid.

Marsha Kramer was one of the aides who helped Johansen with her reading. It was Kramer’s patience, Johansen said, that helped her learn to read and write.

“Marsha was always full of encouragement,” Johansen remembers. “She was always saying, ‘Don’t give up, you can do this. Keep trying.’”

Johansen did keep trying. Her confidence, with the help of Kramer and several other aides, grew.

“Katie’s head,” Kramer said in her letter of recommendation, “started to raise up from the paper.”

Kramer watched as Johansen improved her fluency at both reading and mathematics; watched as she moved on to junior high and high school; and watched as Johansen, who had overcome her shyness to compete for Miss Poulsbo and Miss Kingston, moved on to Olympic College.

Johansen had been inspired by North Kitsap culinary arts teacher Eunice Mann, whose encouragement was instrumental in guiding Johansen to Olympic College, and to cooking.

“Eunice did the same thing Marsha did for me,” Johansen said. “She helped me find my way to college.”

Johansen, who graduated from North Kitsap High School after being in the special education program, went to Olympic College, earned a B average, and graduated in 2001. In order to become eligible for the distinguished Title 1 graduate program, Johansen wrote an essay, and Kramer wrote a nomination.

Kramer, who now works for Learning Support Services, wrote: “When Dixie (Husser, the director of Learning Support Services) asked me if I knew of any students that were in Title 1 that went on to be successful, Katie was the first person I could think of.”

Johansen was in the car when she learned she had won. A call came in on her cell phone, and she excitedly told her father, who was driving.

“He almost drove off the road,” she said.

As a distinguished graduate, Johansen gets an all-expense trip to Florida, where she will be one of 100 people honored.

“I get to make 100 new friends,” she said. “I love it ... these are people who’ve been through what I’ve been through.”

Johansen has kept in touch with Kramer; in fact, their families are friends. And Johansen got to thank her friend earlier, when she helped make a wedding cake for Kramer’s son.

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