By KEA YENGST
When a Carmel High School student, alum or parent hears the name “Johnston,” they likely immediately think of a rambunctious gymnasium with hundreds of students chanting “I’m not normal, I’m a Padre!” and “I love my school!” alongside Weight Training teacher Craig Johnston, known as “Coach J.”
Although those days of school spirit are currently put on hold, the Johnston legacy lives on in a remote fashion.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my dad,” new CHS physical education teacher Phil Johnston says. “I have been collectively teaching for seven years now, and it is very rare to see a teacher stay on the same school site for 31 years. I am 100% going to continue the legacy of my dad, but I am my own person, and I plan to bring something new to the position.”
A CHS alum, Phil Johnston has taken the spotlight of his father and now teaches Weight Training and freshman P.E.
“As of right now, since we can’t be on campus together,” Johnston says, “I’m going to try and be interactive with my students using various platforms like Nearpod, Pear Deck, Zoom, and Google Classroom.”
After graduating from CHS in 2006, the younger Johnston went to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, on a full athletic scholarship for football and studied Social Sciences and minored in Criminal Justice.
“Once I graduated, I decided that teaching was something I really wanted to do,” Johnston explains. “It came very naturally for me, and I’m very passionate about it. I love waking up every day and feeling like I am making a difference in teenagers’ lives.”
Prior to accepting a position at CHS, Johnston had several other valuable work experiences. Aside from jobs at local restaurants, Johnston also worked in Spanish Bay’s security force. The coach has also worked with the Special Olympics in earlier years, which has assisted with teaching weight training and physical education.
“I used to help train and participate in the Special Olympics for seven or eight years,” Johnston says. “My mother was a special education teacher from Monterey County, so I helped her out.”
Outside of teaching, Johnston likes to go camping, hiking and spend time with his family. He also likes to check in with his students’ mental health.
“What I can really focus on is the mental health of our students and making sure they are OK and developing into young men and women,” Johnston says. “As freshmen in high school they are still developing physically and mentally, and I want to make sure that they are learning little techniques and habits to carry on to their adult lives.”
While the one and only Coach J has made a lasting legacy on Carmel students young and old, Phil Johnston hopes to bring the same compassion and enthusiasm for physical well-being to his students, whether it be remotely or in person.