There are two general reasons Johnson continues her pursuit of knowledge. One, because she loves learning and secondly, she is setting the example by raising the bar for her family.
Johnson graduated from Cleveland High School in 1976. She didn’t let marriage and working full time on the second or third shifts at Duracell prevent her from enrolling at Cleveland State Community College where she graduated with an A.S. in Business Administration with emphasis on computers.
“When I was going to school, I worked full time and the fewest amount of hours I took at Cleveland State was 16 hours,” she said. “I never took less than that. I was a wife and a mother and held down a full time job.”
After finishing her associates, she continued at Bryan College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. In December, she began working on a master’s degree business administration through Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa.
“I feel it’s important for advancement and my family has always been about education,” she said.
She and her husband, Terrial, will have been married 36 years in June. He still makes her laugh and she still enjoys talking about him.
“We met in high school. He was playing football,” she said with a girlish giggle. “We got together in 1972 and we’ve been together ever since.”
She and Terrial’s sister were best friends, so the boy and girl knew each other before 1972. Johnson remembers growing up on Dooley Street and Terrial visiting his grandparents who lived on Gaut Street.
“He used to come down there and make little google eyes,” she said. “At first I used to tell him he was the bully of the street.”
But her opinion changed and she found him to be nice, polite and well-mannered.
“He was very nice, very nice. He was caring and I liked the fact that he played sports and he was funny,” she said. “Our kids got his sense of humor.”
They have five adult children: two boys, Terrial II and Terrenzo; and three daughters, Naneka Walker, Natoya Richards and Nashawana; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“If you want your stomach to hurt (from laughter), come around my house. He’s very family oriented. He loves his family. I just like getting together with my family. We have a ball when we’re together,” she said. And, it’s Johnson’s family and faith that keeps her loved ones going. “I love my family. I love the lord.”
Her son, Terrial II, is a student in the Wacker Institute and will be leaving for Germany in a few weeks.
The family attends Green’s Chapel in Charleston where she is involved in children’s ministry under the guidance of her pastor, Rev. Dr. Harry Johnson.
“We have a puppet ministry and we go around to different churches,” she said.
Because of her love for singing, Lavinia, her husband and daughters have a singing group.
“Singing is my passion. That’s my ministry,” she said. “Anything I can relate to, that’s what I’m going to sing. If I can feel it, then I’m going to sing it. The only way to get your point across is if you’ve been through it, and I ask my father in heaven to give me what he wants me to sing — that’s what I do. When I go to a church or an event, I always pray first for the lord to tell me what to sing and it always comes out right.”
Her happiness carries over into her professional life. As an account clerk in the city of Cleveland’s business office, Johnson almost makes paying taxes a pleasure. Prior to moving to the finance department two years ago, Johnson worked a short time in the animal shelter as a clerk assistant. Before the animal shelter, she was out of work for almost two years after being laid off from a supervisory position in a distribution center.
Johnson is the daughter of the late Rev. Willie and Elsie Scotton. She was born in McMinnville, but moved to Cleveland when she was a year old and that’s her only attachment to the place of her birth. She has three brothers and four sisters.
“I’m number eight,” she said.
Her father was an ordained minister in the Church of God of Prophecy and taught special education at Cleveland High School when it first opened.
“He always taught us to be thankful,” she said. “I thank him every day for my family because that’s my life; plus, I’ll take a class every now and then. I love education.”