Class of 1963
2008 Pioneer Award Winner
FAA: What was your most memorable Frankford experience? Which teacher inspired you the most?
JOHNSTON-KING: My most memorable experiences were: football games, attending Battle of the Bands contests (Frankford usually won), having lunch at the home of Dr. Dickie (English teacher) my senior year, graduation at Chapel of the Four Chaplains at Temple University.
Dr. Dickie was one of my favorite teachers, but the inspiration to become a teacher came from my 3rd grade teacher at Smedley Elementary.
Equipping Students for the Future
FAA: How did Frankford equip you for your teaching career?
JOHNSTON-KING: Frankford provided classes that prepared me to successfully transition into college.
FAA: Could you describe your impressive teaching career?
JOHNSTON-KING: My teaching career began in 1967. I retired in 2008. After retiring, I volunteered in the classrooms of three friends for a year, and then worked two years for Experience Corps.
Editor’s Note: AARP Foundation Experience Corps is a proven program made up of volunteers who are dedicated to helping children become great readers before completing third grade.
... These volunteers have changed the lives of thousands of children in schools across America.
Early in my career, I realized that my strength was teaching children in need of extra help and more one-to-one attention. During the years when children were "cycled" for reading and math (according to their ability—above, on and below grade level), my classes were the children considered below grade level.
Today's Public School System vs. Two Decades Ago
FAA: How does today's public education system differ from 20 years ago and when you began teaching?
JOHNSTON-KING: Today's system seems to be test, test, test with the focus being the tests and not the children/students. Teachers almost need a personal secretary to complete the required paperwork. What happened to child development guide lines? Everyone doesn't test well.
FAA: What college did you attend? Why did you choose this college?
JOHNSTON-KING: I attended Virginia State College (now university). My parents met there. I went to make my father happy. It was one of my best decisions.
I received a great education and made life-long friends.
Winning the Pioneer Award...
A Family Affair
FAA: What did winning the Pioneer Award mean to you?
JOHNSTON-KING: I was quite surprised and deeply honored when I received the Pioneer Award. My father, Dr. Leon Johnston and my cousin, Dr. Walter Levy were also recipients.
I enjoy assisting others through volunteering, supporting my church and sorority, along with various charities, committees and community organizations. I didn't expect to be rewarded for doing so.
FAA: What are your hobbies? What is your most favorite thing to do? Tell us a little about your immediate family?
An Abundant Life
LILA JOHNSTON-KING: I enjoy exercise classes like aerobics, Zumba, water aerobics, walking and line dancing. My most favorite thing is spending time with my family and friends.
My husband, John, and I have been married for 48 years. We have five children and eight grandchildren.
FAA: According to Frankford's history, your father, Dr. Leon Johnston, was the first African American to attend Frankford? What was his Frankford experience like?
JOHNSTON-KING: Don't really know. I would guess that his experience was probably positive. He proudly supported Frankford High.
Advice to Frankford Students and Recent Grads
FAA: What advice would you give today's students and recent Frankford grads?
JOHNSTON-KING: I would encourage them to pursue their dreams, whether it be college, trade school, sports, armed forces, athletics, entertaining—whatever, as long as it enables them to become a positive, contributing member of society.