For nearly four decades, in classrooms and districts in three states, educators John and Beverly Johnson devoted their lives to children.

That commitment to educational excellence continues today, with the charitable gift annuity the pair established to help fund the greatest needs of Ball State’s Teachers College.

“We dedicated our lives to teaching,” says John Johnson (BS ’56, MA ’63). “We never dreamed of doing anything else.”

It was a passion the pair first fostered as students at Ball State, and carried to schools in northern Indiana, Michigan, and finally Florida.

A model teacher, Beverly (BS ’55, MA’59) went on to become principal at Mishawaka’s Twin Branch Elementary School, and she helped build and pilot Indiana’s elementary school guidance program. John, meanwhile, taught middle school math and coached in South Bend, and he was a part-time announcer for University of Notre Dame sports teams. He spent his summers with The Country Playhouse, a summer stock musical theater group he founded in South Bend.

But in 1978, the pair decided to try something new and headed for the warmer climes in Florida. There, Beverly continued her work as an educational leader, being named a Florida Master Teacher — a designation reserved for only the top 3 percent of that state’s educators. John Johnson says his wife routinely mentored student teachers, and even welcomed Florida’s first lady into her first grade classroom.

“Beverly was the best teacher I ever saw,” Johnson says. “Walking into her room was like walking into Disney World.”

When the pair decided to retire, they settled in a community near the ocean where John remains involved in the local theater group. But they wanted to find a way to do something to honor the careers they both loved, and that led them back home again, at least figuratively, to Indiana.

“We both love Ball State and felt we received a great education here,” John Johnson says. So the pair settled on a gift that will help fund the greatest needs for tomorrow’s teachers.