19 April 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Ched Johnson tribute takes place at Northeast

Northeast Middle School eighth-grader Adam White and his father, Paul White, present Northeast paraprofessional Ched Johnson with a football signed by Michigan State University football coach Mark Dantonio and quarterback Andrew Maxwell on Tuesday. Dantonio and Maxwell also made a video voicing their recognition of Johnson's leadership and service as a coach through the years.

Northeast Middle School eighth-grader Adam White and his father, Paul White, present Northeast paraprofessional Ched Johnson with a football signed by Michigan State University football coach Mark Dantonio and quarterback Andrew Maxwell on Tuesday. Dantonio and Maxwell also made a video voicing their recognition of Johnson’s leadership and service as a coach through the years.

By John Kennett jkennett@mdn.net
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 12:20 pm
Reposted from Midland Daily News

Ched Johnson will never be a front and center guy; it’s just not his nature. But the influence he’s had throughout the years as a coach has made him an MVP around Northeast Middle School.

That impact was recognized Tuesday as the paraprofessional was surprised by approximately 75 students, teachers and parents in the Little Theater at Northeast.

“He comes in early and does supervision,” said Jeff Jaster, Northeast principal. “He does lunch supervision. Some of the jobs he does are not so glamorous, like there are 400 kids in the lunchroom and it’s crazy with food all over the place. Yet he never complains. He’s just a good person to work with. I think people have realized this over the years and when (Paul White) wanted to recognize him, we were all on board with it.”

Tuesday’s recognition had its roots in events last fall and winter when Johnson asked Paul White’s son, Adam, who has Down’s Syndrome, to participate in athletics at Northeast.

“We wanted to say thank you to coach for allowing Adam to be on the football team and the basketball team,” said White. “Ched has made a difference in our son Adam’s life. For years Ched has been helping kids and taking them under his wing.”

Jaster has observed the caring nature of Johnson, who coaches football and basketball at Northeast and the Midland Junior’s All-Stars baseball team in the summer.

“What I’ve seen from him, especially in the last couple of years, is he has really gone out of his way to include everybody,” said Jaster. “Adam has Down’s syndrome. He made sure he was on the football team and even got him into some games. (Ched) would call the other team’s coach ahead of time and ask, ‘The last two minutes I want to (put Adam into the game). Do you care?’”

Four years ago, Johnson and fellow staff member, Keith Everett, were awarded the The Workplace Good Samaritan award by the American Red Cross for saving the life of a student who had been choking on a piece of food.

“I’ve seen him really make a difference because the kids here see him being accepting and we have been better off because of it,” said Jaster. “His job as a paraprofessional is, generally speaking, working with those students who have special needs. He’s been good for the building and good for the kids.”

Knowing that Johnson, a huge Michigan State fan, would never want a special gathering to honor him, White and Jaster developed a plan to dupe Johnson into thinking he was going to watch a sports training video with Vikings’ athletes immediately after school.

“He actually thinks the video is going to be about sports supplements,” said Jaster before Tuesday’s gathering. “And it is going to be this tribute from (Michigan State University) Head Football Coach Mark Dantonio and Andrew Maxwell.”

Dantonio didn’t disappoint as he took time out of his busy schedule in East Lansing to videotape the tribute to Johnson.

“Congratulations on this special recognition in the Midland community,” said Dantonio. “As a football coach, I understand how impactful we can be with people and with all of our players. I believe you are doing that on a daily basis in Midland.”

Maxwell followed with thanks for the lessons Johnson taught during Maxwell’s time on the athletic fields at Northeast.

“I want to publicly acknowledge and thank you for all you’ve done in my life and athletic career,” said Maxwell. “You instilled in me the value of work ethic.”

However, Johnson almost derailed the stellar football career of Maxwell.

“In eighth grade, the first couple of days of football, we had to run so much,” said Maxwell. “I had not run that much in my entire life. I had my speech to you ready to quit the team and be done.”

But Maxwell saw the wisdom in Johnson’s tough love as he went on to become an All-State quarterback at Midland High and this past season the starter under center for the Spartans.

“I want to take the time to say how proud I am of you and how thankful I am for the impact you made in Adam’s life this past fall,” said Maxwell. “That just shows what type of man you are and how inclusive you are of everybody.”

After the video, Adam White presented a football to Johnson signed by Dantonio and Maxwell.

“I appreciate everybody,” Johnson told the crowd. “I’m just a small part of the puzzle. You guys are the large part. You allow me to be in your lives. There is a great staff here and it makes my job easy to help out in any way that I can.”

Copyright 2013 Midland Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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