Q&A: Regina Wade Johnson, Recipient of Fontbonne Staff Excellence Award

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Regina Wade Johnson, recipient of Fontbonne’s 2019-2020 Staff Excellence Award

“She ensures all students receive the support needed to be successful.”

“She shows compassion to all she encounters, making them feel welcome.”

“She goes the extra mile to make sure others are taken care of and is dedicated to the mission of Fontbonne University.”

Those are just a few of the ways Fontbonne faculty and staff members describe Regina Wade Johnson, director of the Kinkel Center, academic support and accommodations coordinator, and recipient of the 2019-2020 Staff Excellence Award. We recently sat down with Wade Johnson to learn more about her life-long career as an educator and the important role she plays within the Fontbonne community.

Q: When did you find out you earned the 2019-2020 Staff Excellence Award?

In years past, the award has been presented at the end-of-year picnic, but due to the pandemic and the desire to kick off this academic year by uniting the Fontbonne community, the recipient was announced at an all-campus meeting in late August that our new president, Dr. Nancy Blattner, facilitated. When she announced I had won, I was in total shock. Because I was nominated by my peers, I had no idea I was in the running. It felt kind of like I was walking into my own surprise birthday party. It was truly an honor.

Q: When did you start working at Fontbonne?

I came to Fontbonne in December 2017. Transitioning into my current role as director of the Kinkel Center and academic support and accommodations coordinator was pretty seamless. Not only did I serve in a similar position at Harris-Stowe State University, but I’ve also been working in education for more than 30 years in all areas, from pre-K to college. Working with students is both my forte and my calling. Because I’ve supported learners with all exceptionalities, I am uniquely positioned to meet the academic, physical and emotional needs in order to help all of Fontbonne’s students be successful.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you?

I help students get the academic help they need. On a daily basis, I provide academic accommodations for students with exceptionalities, ensuring they receive extra time on exams and flexible deadlines on assignments. I also supervise our Peer Academic Coaching (PAC) program that I created. The program pairs incoming students with current students who teach time management, study and organization skills to help ensure a successful academic transition to Fontbonne. Additionally, I arrange auxiliary support for students who need technology assistance and help taking notes or reading tests. I serve on Fontbonne’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Behavior Intervention Team, and am a member of the Missouri Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Q: How have you and your team worked to accommodate students during the challenges brought on by COVID-19?

We’ve made numerous adjustments to help our students transition smoothly from in-person to virtual learning, from compiling lists of free services and resources students can access to ensuring everyone has the necessary tools to complete their assignments and attend classes. We also conduct virtual appointments with students to discuss any academic needs or if they just need someone to talk to. During these difficult times when we are all anxious and unsure of the future, it is important to let our students know they are never alone and that we are all in this together. We have an open-door policy. If a student needs anything, we encourage them to reach out.

Q: What are some of your favorite things about Fontbonne?

Although Fontbonne is a small school, it has a great big heart. Everyone here is so passionate about living the university’s mission of serving the dear neighbor without distinction. I would highly recommend Fontbonne to anyone looking for a safe place to have the opportunity to grow and give back.

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