My first moments at RTCS began when I was three, attending the preschool program. From that moment on I spent the better part of fifteen years walking those halls. Graduating in the class of 2012 I then have gone on to continue my studies at Geneva College, a private liberal arts college located in the Beaver Falls, PA. I am currently pursuing a degree in biology with a focus in allied health and minors in both chemistry and journalism. Once my time at Geneva comes to a close I fully intend to pursue a graduate program in anatomy and physiology. The end goal is to apply to medical school with the aspirations of eventually becoming a surgeon. The time I spent at RTCS undoubtedly has prepared me for the long road ahead, and I know full well I am a better student, man and Christian for having been a graduate there.
My name is Jessica Johnson, and I graduated from Robinson Township Christian School in 2007. My name was Jessica Lavor when I was a student at the school. I came to RTCS in 7th grade from public school where I attended since 1st grade. My parents decided to send me to RTCS to get me away from the dangerous and profane environment that I was in at the public school. I was not happy to move to a new school away from my friends at first, but as I grew in understanding and developed meaningful relationships, I also grew to love RTCS and became forever grateful for my parents' decision to send me there.
After graduation, I went to the University of Pittsburgh for four years and graduated with a double major in English Literature and History of Art and Architecture. During my senior year at PITT I taught Senior Thesis at RTCS under the supervision of Mr. Jonathan Stark. I also was given the opportunity to teach several college classes in the literature department as an Undergraduate teaching assistant for two semesters under two of my favorite professors. These part-time teaching experiences opened my eyes to my love for teaching and the education system.
I graduated from PITT in 2011 and was married to Nathanael Johnson in May of 2011. I moved to New Jersey for 8 months as my husband was finishing his 6th year as an enlisted Airman in the U.S. Air Force until we moved back to Pittsburgh. A few months later, I accepted a position with the University of Pittsburgh English Department as their curriculum coordinator. I enjoyed managing the class schedules for the Film, Literature, Composition, Writing and Graduate programs. Again, I found myself feeling quite at home in the world of academia.
After a year and a half at the University of Pittsburgh, I was offered a job at RTCS as the 5th and 6th grade teacher. I have a knack for bringing things "full-circle" in my life. I am currently preparing for my 3rd year as the 5th and 6th grade teacher at RTCS and my second year teaching Rhetoric and Senior Thesis in upper school. I love my job, and I am so thankful that God brought me back to the school that was such a blessing to me in my teenage years.
Having spent my entire young life at RTCS (K-12th), it was a scary step to finally leave its halls to tackle the next stages of life. I couldn’t help but wonder… Could a small school like RTCS adequately prepare me to handle the world at large? Looking back almost 10 years later, I can answer that concern with a resounding “Yes”. Although I didn’t stray too far from home for very long, I’ve managed to have a whirlwind of life experiences since graduating in 2007. RTCS instilled a great deal of confidence in me by giving me a variety of opportunities to lead student groups, star in theatrical productions, and think deeply and critically about the world around me. It didn’t take long for me to carry that confidence forward.
RTCS set me up for success mere weeks after graduating, and in a very tangible way. By the grace of God and years of academic rigor at the school, I was able to gather a variety of grants and scholarships that allowed me to go to college absolutely free. My family sacrificed much to send me to a private school like RTCS (something I’ve come to appreciate more as an adult), and it’s amazing to look back and see that financial sacrifice pay off in such a clear way. That investment in a solid education has already paid off ten-fold, and I know that it will continue to do so.
I decided to pursue a career in Business Marketing at Geneva College, as I loved the Christ-centered education and the warm atmosphere (not literally, of course) that it offered. While I didn’t have any formal “business” classes at RTCS, I found that my critical thinking and writing skills were at the top of the class, and I was able to succeed within business and liberal arts classes alike. I ultimately graduated Summa Cum Laude and received several business department awards, accolades that I know I wouldn’t have received without a great foundation from RTCS.
I like to say that while I studied like a business major (that is to say… not very much), I lived like a music major. Having had many amazing experiences in choir and theater at RTCS, I was hoping to take it to the next level. I was excited to see that the talents and abilities that I developed translated very well at the college level. I became a member and officer of the Genevans choir, joined several select ensembles, and even got to be part of a paid touring choir called New Song that allowed me to travel the country and the world for several summers. Those experiences, perhaps more than any other part of my college career, shaped the way I view God’s creation and His people, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it had RTCS not nurtured my passion for music.
While I, like many, was sad to leave my college years behind, the Lord has been good to me since graduation. I spent a year in the Pittsburgh Fellows program developing business leadership skills from a Christian perspective while also interning at Trib Total Media. Shortly after, I married my college sweetheart and took a job at one of Pittsburgh’s fastest growing companies: Merkle, Inc. My strong education at RTCS continues to pay off in the work place, particularly my communication and writing skills, and I recently accepted a managerial position at the company. Of course, I’d be remiss to leave out the most important current connection to RTCS: my wife. My wife has been blessed to be able to teach Art and Music at RTCS for several years now. While I’m still getting over the fact that it feels like I was just up on that stage, it’s amazing to watch her bless the next generation of RTCS graduates. My wife and I both look forward to being a part of the RTCS community and one day sending our own children there, in hopes that they too will get the great educational experience that I did.