Dina Johnston

Hello, 8-8!
1. Bishop O'Connell is visiting our class today to let the students know more about what it is like to be a student at O'Connell.
2. On Thursday, September 23, the Student Council is hosting a dance after school.  It will begin at 4:30 pm and end at 6:30 pm.  It will be outside on the blacktop and in the tents.  Most students will go home after school and return to school at 4:30 pm.  However, a number of seventh and eighth grade students will stay after school to help with setup of the tents and outdoor spaces in order to be ready on time for a 4:30 pm start.  Your child will be able to tell you if they are on setup (or cleanup duty).  If your child is doing cleanup duty, they will cleanup from 6:30 to 6:45 pm.  All children should be picked up no later than 6:30 pm sharp, unless the child is doing cleanup duty.  Those staying for cleanup should be picked up no later than 6:45 pm sharp.
This dance has one entry fee and that is a canned good for Christ House.  Only one can is needed, but you are welcome to be more generous. 
There will also be a food truck there, so please give your child money if you would like them to enjoy that treat.
There are many teacher and parent chaperones, so please know that the children will be properly monitored for behavior (that is dictated in the student handbook). 
Social Studies 7:
1. We begin our American Indian unit this week.  We cover the Paleo-Indians, as well as the individual tribal groupings that lived at the time of European Exploration (15th century).  We will focus especially on how the Native Americans adapted to their environment.
2. I expect that the test on the American Indians will be next week, likely Tuesday.
Social Studies 8:
1. The students finished their geography unit.  The test is scheduled for tomorrow, September 21.
2. We will work on the Reconstruction era this week.  
3. We will also continue working on the Civil War Wax Museum, which is slated to be presented (hopefully in real life) in the second or third week of October.  This week the children will focus on researching more about the person they will become in the wax museum, along with doing research to ready them for writing their speech, and costume creating.
Regular Religion class update: 
Father Kevin visited our class last Thursday, so the Chapter 6 test was rescheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, September 21.
Scrapbook project presentations will be presented after the test is completed.
We will start Chapter 7 in the Confirmed in the Spirit book.
You will receive a checklist from the Cathedral staff (it will go home in backpack mail) on any outstanding items your family needs to do before Confirmation.  This should be coming home Tuesday, as well.
I was born in Central Coast California.  I lived there only for a bit before my father and mother moved to Germany when I was one.  (My mother's family is German, so it made sense for the military to send my dad there.)  I was bilingual as a child, and still retain much of my understanding of German, even if my speaking abilities are not the greatest.
At five my dad moved my brother and I back to California.  When I was eight, my dad decided he needed to be in politics, so he moved us to the east coast.  We lived in Maryland for a year before settling in on Arlington as our forever home. (My dad still lives a mile from the Cathedral!)
I was a student at STM from 5th to 8th grade and then I went to O'Connell for high school.  I flirted with the thought of going to the University of Southern California for college, but in the end, we couldn't afford it, so I went to George Mason University, where I received my degree in Anthropology, with an emphasis on Historical Archaeology. 
After college, I worked on Capitol Hill as a clerk for the Committee on Resources (Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands).  I loved that work, as it did allow me some connection to my anthropology background, but in the end, I realized I really love the more practical application of history research, and I did really like working with children, so a history teacher was born.  
I have worked as an American History teacher since 2002, and took a few years off to be home with my three children.  I came to the Cathedral School in 2015.  I did teach technology that year, but I loved it.  I also met so many students that way, many of whom are in the middle school this year!  In 2017, I got to go back to American History, and I was back with my first educational love! 
I am constantly learning and working towards being a better history teacher.  I really enjoy conferences, books, documentaries, etc.  If you know of anything I'd love, please do send me suggestions!
Welcome to School Year 2021-2022!
I am Dina Johnston, and I teach American History Part One (7th Grade; pre- Columbian to 1877), American History Part Two (8th Grade; 1877-Present) and Catholic Church History/Religion (8th Grade).
I absolutely love what I do!  I have always loved history, especially all the time I was learning it in my classes when I was a girl, here at St. Thomas More!  (Yes, I am an almuna of this great school!)
I loved history and different cultures so much that I decided to study Anthropology in college, with a specific emphasis in Historical Archaeology.  I did my thesis in senior year on how the 18th century landowners of Virginia conspicuously consumed types of items as a way of making their status in the society more important seeming (basically they bought things that made them look like they were wealthier than they were).  I loved being an archaeologist, and I really appreciate how the materials that were left behind in archaeological sites can enhance our understanding of history and events beyond what was written down. 
My classes are very intense and involve a lot of work on critical thinking, especially with regards to discussion, writing, and creative endeavors.  It is NEVER enough in my class to just know when an event occurred and who was involved.  You must always be ready to evaluate, assess, explain, debate, etc. I also expect my students to take these skills and create projects or write responses that use the critical thinking tools I expect them to use daily.
These three classes are history based, but with a Catholic foundation.  I always incorporate Catholic teachings and doctrine in my curriculum.  Any of the history that allows for ethical discussions, we engage in that.  Any of the history that speaks to rights and responsibilities, we assess and determine what they are.  You can be assured that Catholicism is the core of all we learn.
Always feel welcome to reach out to me.  My email is djohnston@stmschool.org. You can subscribe to this page in the sidebar below my photo (if you are on a desktop and not a mobile device). 
I look forward to a great school year!