Longtime LAUSD elementary teacher Annorver Johnson passed away on January 8. Johnson grew up in South-Central Los Angeles, attending 75th Street Elementary School, Edison Junior High School, and graduating from Crenshaw High School. After getting her Bachelor of Arts degree at Cal State University, Los Angeles, she landed her first teaching job with the Los Angeles Unified School District as an afterschool program aide. Unlike some teachers who start at elementary, pass through middle school, then advance to high school because of the challenge of teaching “the little children can really work your nerves,” Annorver Johnson stood firm for over 35 years teaching elementary school.

She especially loved the preschoolers and kindergartners as she continued her teaching career. She became a teacher’s advocate who encouraged teachers to stand together, speak up, and speak out about improving working conditions on the job. She was inspired to do this because while she was in high school, she stood with her teachers during the 1970s teacher strike. So when it came time for her to walk the line in ’89, she did not need to be convinced to stand with UTLA. She believed that all employees should be treated fairly. 

Annorver continued to stand with UTLA because she believed that education was the key to social justice and change, especially for African-American children. She believed in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” To help effect that change, she became an active member of the UTLA African-American Education Committee and worked very closely with the Dr. Martin Luther King scholarship awards. As a teacher at Century Park Elementary, her students would recite poems and speeches, sing songs, and compete for scholarships while sharing what they had learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her students were inspired and motivated by her teaching even at their early young age because she used a variety of instructional resources and strategies to engage students in critical thinking, which helped them understand and solve everyday problems as they learned from the teachings of Dr. King.

Although not as an elective delegate, Annorver attended several California Teachers Association and National Teachers Association meetings with friends of hers who were elected delegates. She wanted a first-hand look at how educational laws were made and how those elected delegates pushed through policies and procedures that had a positive impact on the lives of her students who live in South-Central Los Angeles.

Notice, you did not hear words like coordinator, counselor, out-of-classroom personnel, nor administrator because these titles are held by her surviving children Lorenzo Johnson Jr., Loraine Davis, Dr. Loretta Johnson-Smith, and their father, Lorenzo Johnson Sr. Annorver believed in education and she instilled that in her children! Annorver Johnson held the position of teacher; she excelled in the eyes of her coworkers; and was an excellent educator, so when the role was called on Sunday, January 8, 2023, she answered “present“ in heaven.

—Written by Dr. Loretta Johnson-Smith and co-author Joyce Randall, Chair of the UTLA African American Education Committee