KAMIAH — Sandy Johnson said the “best thing about being a teacher is helping my students achieve success.”
At Kamiah Bible Academy (KBA) Johnson explained success means “to have a relationship with Christ, desiring to live according to Biblical principles” not just academic achievement.
Johnson has been involved with KBA since its inception in 1994. “Our older daughter had been struggling in school and we thought the academy might be a good alternative for her,” said Johnson.
Johnson admitted that first year was a challenge for both staff and students. She has a degree in Christian education from Big Sky Bible College, which formerly operated in Lewistown, Mont. She became the head teacher at KBA soon after the school opened. The school, located at 521 10th Street, is a ministry of the Kamiah Bible Church and is a non-profit school funded by tuition and donations. The church pastor, Sam Perkins, serves as the school’s principal.
“I soon knew that my being involved at KBA was part of the Lord’s plan,” Johnson said. She took on the role of administrator in addition to head teacher in 2005. The K-12 school currently has 14 students from eight different families; near capacity for the school. The school teaches 12 subjects, using the Bible as its core.
“We teach science from the viewpoint of creation. God has designed us,” Johnson said. For math, “the Bible directs being good stewards of money, being honest.”
She and the other two supervisors (teachers) and two monitors (volunteers) lead each student in individualized learning. KBA uses the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) curriculum. Students work through PACES (packets of accelerated Christian education) for each subject and need to score 80 percent or better to advance to the next step.
She said they have a good relationship with the Kamiah public schools. Students may dual enroll in the schools, if the parents choose. Music, drivers education, sports and other extracurriculars are some of the classes and activities KBA students have participated in. She appreciates that Kamiah Joint School District 304 provided some CARES act funds to KBA, used to install a touchless drinking fountain.
Johnson said she had many great teachers in her own education.
“The ones who made a difference are those whose character stood out as they taught, being kind, compassionate and joyful,” Johnson said. She hopes that her students “will remember me as being an encourager, whether they are struggling with academics, or other issues of life. I also hope they will remember that I disciplined with fairness, willing to apologize when I have offended.” On a whimsical note, Johnson added that she hopes her students remember that she could do the action song “head, shoulders, knees and toes” faster than any of them.
The school has adjusted for COVID by accepting that the students may not be able to accomplish as much schoolwork if they are away from the school for illness or quarantine. They closed the school entirely for one week in the first quarter after one staff member and one student were both diagnosed with COVID. Also in the classroom, the students are seated with their family group, instead of by age group (as they were in past years.)
Johnson’s husband, Jerry Johnson, a Kamiah High School graduate, works for the Idaho County Sheriff’s office and was recently promoted to lieutenant of patrol/investigations. They met at Big Sky Bible College and after marrying, moved to Idaho County, where Jerry’s family has lived for six generations. They enjoy spending time with their five adult children and eleven grandchildren, especially when they gather at the Johnson family ranch in Woodland to picnic, camp, etc.
Sandy also has fun quilting “whenever I can squeeze it in,” she said.