A teacher retires. A choir sings. Everyone cries

Trust me, you need this.

Brian Johnson is retiring from Austin, Minn., public schools. For 31 years he’s been the choir director at the high school.

Former students showed up to join in the choir’s singing him into retirement at the choir’s spring concert last night. So many former students showed up, there was hardly anyone left in the audience by the time they took the stage.

You know how you know someone is a great teacher? They cry when they can’t be with students anymore.

“It’s always difficult to say goodbye to your family,” he told graduating seniors. “There will always be a piece of you here.”

“We love you, Mr. Johnson,” one shouted.

“I love you, too,” he said.

  • Every day I see reminders to honor veterans. I have often thought that teachers are deserving of similar honor and respect. They do not have an easy job. Motivated by an idealistic desire to share knowledge, they enter the profession full of energy and promise, only to learn that their real job is to solve problems so that the way may be cleared for learning. Many will not stay the course to retire as Mr. Johnson did, but for those who do – the ones who stick with it and figure out how to do this honorable work, we should be everlastingly grateful.

    • Al

      I do thank someone when I learn they’re a teacher. By and large, they’re just the cream of the crop.

  • Joseph

    I’ve been to Athens too! Lovely city. But they riot/march/protest there all the time over everything — the riot police look bored most of the time XD

  • Oh man, “For Good.” That’s just unfair. Poor guy never stood a chance at keeping the tears away.

    • In our next lives, we should all matter to people the way this guy did.

      • Ethan Johnson

        I can personally attest to the fact that “Mr. J,” as he was known to all of his students, mattered so much to the hundreds of other students who would have liked to have been there last night too. I may be a bit biased, but having been so lucky as to call him my dad for 22 years, I was able to see first hand the countless lives he’s touched. The world is a better place because all of the educators like him and the people they’ve changed.

  • Sara J.

    One of my biggest regrets is not sending a note to a teacher who changed my life before he passed away. Teachers are amazing. It’s dusty in here…

  • Aj Grossenburg

    I do not know this man, but he was my wife’s choir teacher and she was sad that she could not make it last night to join the other alumni in this surprise to honor him at his final concert. Thank you Mr Johnson for all that you have done and for meaning so much to my wife!

  • Eric

    When we moved to Austin seven years ago, we didn’t know a soul. My daughter was mid-year junior in high school when we moved, late December, and it was a hard time for her. She likes to sing, so I thought getting her involved in choir mid year would provide some quick connections. I emailed the choir director, Mr. Johnson, not knowing anything about him, and asked if he would consider adding my daughter mid semester. Not only did he allow her to try out, but he offered to meet with us at school (during his Christmas vacation). He unlocked the building and gave us a tour of the choir rooms, and tried her out in person. He helped my daughter feel a little better about the move. I’ll never forget his kindness. He is a special person and will be missed.