Taking on New Challenges, Year After Year

Middle School science teacher Nate Johnston has been teaching at Country Day for 18 years, but he has a new role this year. 

"In addition to teaching eighth grade science, I'm now the Upper School scheduler, and I work in the technology department, focusing on teaching faculty how to maximize their tablets and software in the classroom," says Johnston. 

Nate is no stranger to taking on new challenges at Country Day.  

"I've always taught science, but I've also taught Middle School photography, a garden-to-table class, and STEAM. I'm also on the disciplinary council, co-eighth grade team leader, and I've coached upper school wrestling, and middle school football, wrestling, and baseball." 

Now, Nate is extending his reach into the Upper School, managing the schedules for all 253 students.  

"This new position challenges me to learn more about our Upper School, how to work in a specialized database, and how important scheduling is to the day-to-day business of a school. Although learning the software that's new to me and new to the school has been challenging, I like to think that change and challenges make my job more interesting. This school year has been the busiest year of my CCDS career, and I'm learning to balance my duties in a way I haven't had to before."  

When he's not teaching and coaching, Nate has a passion for cooking, which he also brings to the classroom and campus.  

"I love to garden and cook. I've incorporated these passions into different projects at the school. I built a garden that students maintained as part of an elective course; we grew vegetables from seed and learned how to prepare/cook the produce we grew. We built a brick pizza oven in the garden. We regularly made wood-fired pizzas with students.”  

He also teaches a cooking course during CCDX, the week-long experimental learning experience in the spring. And he used his campus garden to partner with LaSoupe, a local food charity in Cincinnati. The giving garden he built and maintained with students produced so much produce and herbs for LaSoupe that they didn't need to purchase any herbs for almost a whole year.  

For Nate, things like bringing his passion for cooking, his love for technology, and his willingness to lean into challenges all stem from his love for his students.  

"It's worth it when the students seem to appreciate what I do with them in the science classroom. I hear stories from them, other teachers, and parents about how my class positively impacts the students. Those are always my favorite moments. My favorite thing about this community is how it feels like a large family. I've spent most of my adult life working here, and my coworkers are my friends and confidants. I'm just grateful to be at a school where I can teach science, assist in technology, grow a garden, and cook a pizza. Where else can you do that?"