Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
"C-R (C-R), C-T (C-T)," is the main chant in a song Pointe South Elementary School Music Teacher Janet Johnson has written about the Criterion-Reference Competency Tests, which are also known as the CRCTs.
She has also written a pair of songs to encourage children to be drug-free during Red Ribbon Week; a song about patriotism for Veterans Day; and a song about Martin Luther King, Jr., for the holiday that commemorates his birth.
Johnson said she almost has a song for every holiday, or special event, that comes up during the school year. Except for Arbor Day, that is.
"When I was in Savannah, in January, at the GMEA [Georgia Music Educators Association] convention [where she debuted her album], a man came up to me and said his principal wanted him to come up with a song about Arbor Day, and he was wondering if I had anything," she said. "I told him 'No, I don't have any songs about that day.' I guess I should write one now, but I don't know anything about Arbor Day.
"I would need to research it before I wrote about it," she added. "I don't even know when it's celebrated."
Johnson, who has been a music teacher for more than 20 years, including seven years at Pointe South, recently released a CD of 11 songs that she wrote to be used in school. The CD, called "New Songs For Special Days," is Johnson's second album. Her first CD was a gospel album, called, "Songs of Praise, Vol. 1," which was released in 2009.
Johnson said she decided to do an educational-songs album for her second CD, partly because she had two relatives die of heart complications, which she explained were caused by years of drug abuse.
Their deaths, at the ages of 46 and 47, led her to write the two songs about living drug-free lifestyles. "It just stemmed from life, and then I started writing songs about other days of the school year," she said.
The music teacher and recording artist, who began singing when she was 6, said she also plans to do both educational and gospel albums in the future. Still, she said she wants her songs to, someday, be sung in schools across the state. "My goal is to share them with teachers across this school system, and, eventually, across the entire state," she said.
So far, Pointe South Elementary School Principal Marcus Jackson has said he is planning to incorporate the music teacher's songs into school assemblies and pep rallies, to both send a message that an issue is important, and to get students excited for events, such as the CRCT administration in April.
"We're going to have a [CRCT] pep rally soon, and those songs are going to be used," he said. "The kids get very excited about singing these songs, and it's a great way to hook them on learning."
Johnson said she is selling the CD with just the songs, with words, for $10; an alternate version of the CD, which includes the songs with words, as well as instrumental accompaniment tracks, for $20, and sheet music for up to $1.50 per song. The music and CDs can be purchased by sending Johnson an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by sending a letter to J.J. Praise Ministries, P.O. Box 311, McDonough, Ga., 30253.
Johnson said she can also be contacted by calling her, at (770) 329-4849.