Maricopa father kindly confronts daughter’s favorite elementary school teacher

Father Leonard Johnson had a kind confrontation with his daughter's favorite elementary school teacher, Ms. Dersé.
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 8:55 PM MST
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MARICOPA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - “Are you Ms. Dersé?” With teachers struggling amidst staffing shortages in Arizona, the way this question was asked had Saddleback Elementary third-grade teacher Maureen Dersé confused.

“It was not the norm that I’m used to from him,” she said. “I’m like, get me, somebody. I don’t know what’s going on.” Then, as Dersé called for an administrator, Leonard Johnson, a parent of one of her students, didn’t know what was going on either.

“There was no plan at all,” he said. “My family is a family of jokers.” But after Dersé called for an administrator, Johnson stopped joking and switched gears. “I just wanted to tell you that you are one wonderful teacher and Keri says that you are the best,” he said in a Facebook video.

“It’s quite funny,” Dersé said. “The shock on my face first and then the laughing. Because it was a good joke.”

“I wanted to give her praise,” Johnson said. “But I had to give her praise the Johnson way.” And Johnson’s daughter Keri can confirm that this is definitely the Johnson way.

“So I come in through the door and he’s always just kind of staring at me or smiling,” the third-grade student said. “It kind of scares me. It scares me but I’m also laughing at the same time.”

Seeing the hundreds of thousands of likes the Facebook video got is no laughing matter. “I think a lot of people are resonating with the message to get to know your teacher,” Johnson said.

“This is actually a job I’ve done after I retired from Southwest Airlines,” Dersé added. “I’ve always wanted to teach. I love it. I’m here for the kids. It’s nice to hear it, but I don’t need it. I’m here for them.”