Pearl of Muscatine: Sue Johansen

MUSCATINE, Iowa–A native of eastern Iowa, Sue Johansen wanted to find a way to move closer to her original home. When she found a sixth grade teaching position at McKinley Elementary school in Muscatine, she accepted it and moved to the Muscatine area.

For many years, Johansen taught sixth grade at McKinley before transitioning to teaching reading, language arts, and social studies, later with a focus on civics and geography. While teaching, Johansen also coached speech and debate at Muscatine High School, offered professional development to other teachers focused on generating expectations for student achievement, and coordinated the mentoring program for beginning teachers for over 10 years.

Not long after coming to Muscatine, Johansen joined the local League of Women Voters. Their longtime president until her retirement this year, Johansen helped lead their efforts to increase voter registration, encourage voter participation, and educate local voters through candidate forums.

At the state level, Johansen assisted the League of Women Voters with their Hard Won, Not Done campaign to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment (which gave women the right to vote) and the founding of the League of Women Voters. Johansen created a curriculum Iowa high schools could use to help them teach the history of women’s suffrage in the United States. She also contributed to Iowa Public Broadcasting Stations’ documentary “Carrie Chapman Catt, Warrior for Women,” which received an Upper Midwest Emmy Award in November 2020.

Johansen continues to actively volunteer in the Muscatine Community through various ministries at Faith United Church of Christ. To complement these efforts, she serves in several capacities for the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ as well.

After living in Muscatine and raising a family in the city, Johansen has had many positive experiences. “I have many fond memories!” she shared.” Some of my favorite memories include my family having fun at Watermelon Stampedes and 4th of July parades.”

Johansen has also found the people of Muscatine open and inviting and appreciates that, “the friends who remain offer rich relationships filled with joy,” and continue to make Muscatine a wonderful place to live.