GREENBRIER — Johnny Passmore really thought his destiny was set. He said, "All I wanted to be when growing up was a teacher, then move into administration, run for office, and become a Politician." My, how things change!
Passmore taught in the Guy-Perkins Elementary School District for the past four years. He has taught 6th grade math, science, and social studies and grew up in that school as a T-bird student for 13 years before becoming a teacher there. He is bright, well-educated, and creative in his classroom and life — a fun guy to hang with. With a Specialist in Middle School Education degree from University of Central Arkansas, he loves kids. His kids love him as demonstrated by the many hugs he gets. Other educators love him and parents adore him. They will be sad to see him leave Guy-Perkins. He says, "For now though, I’ll have to rest my feathers and put on a collar as a Bulldog. This change is very unexpected and equally awesome and terrifying."
His offer came late summer to move to Quitman Public Schools as a Gifted and Talented teacher to work with kindergarten through twelfth graders—an opportunity that meant life changes for him. After a tough week of decision making, he decided it is his best option professionally. The teacher currently in that position, Lenore Thomas, will be staying for another year to mentor him and walk him through it. He said, "Honestly, that is priceless for a position like this. It gives me the opportunity to work with all grade levels and means going back to school to get my Master’s degree."
Now he said he feels like he never wants to run for an office.
Every summer Passmore is a volunteer in Camp Quality Arkansas for kids with cancer and their families. It’s a camp for about 50 kids ages four through eighteen who meet at Camp Powder Fork in Bald Knob the second week of June. He is also involved in their fall and Spring retreats and is on the camp organizing committee. Sept. 7 will see Passmore at their 5K run in Jonesboro to help raise funds.
He has now been accepted into graduate school at University of Arkansas Little Rock (UALR) and registered for all his classes on Aug. 8. Passmore is an avid and talented performer in Conway Dinner Theater’s past productions. They put on three shows a year and Passmore not only stars on stage, but is now on their Board of Directors and often has a behind-the-scenes role in every play. He started with In Love with Broadway years ago, then "You can’t Take it With You," had a lead role in "Seussical, the Musical," "The Importance of Being Earnest," and "Oklahoma!" He also had a part in The Drowsy Chaperone at UACCM in Morrilton.
He auditioned for "South Pacific" this year and won a part as a sailor acting in the show currently at Murry’s Dinner Playhouse in Little Rock. They started rehearsals in early July and the show opened July 23. It will run until August 31 with dinner/shows every Tuesday through Sunday evenings and matinees on Wednesdays and Sunday afternoons. This is a tough schedule driving to Little Rock almost daily from his Horseshoe Mountain-top home in Greenbrier, even if he were not doing anything else. He loves musicals because he found lines are easy to memorize when put to music. He has an audition on September 7th with The Repertory Theater in Little Rock for "Les Miserables." He will be playing Doc in Crimes of the Heart with Conway Dinner Theater the first two weekends of November as well as Stage Manager for that show.
When asked which he loves more: acting or teaching, he replied, "They’re similar. They both put you on stage, whether teaching tectonic plates in science or performing on a stage. The applause in the theater and that "Aha!" moment when a child gets it in the classroom is equally good." He went on to say, "I’ve always felt I can move kids in my teaching." Although the enrollment at Guy was about 400 students, Passmore is going to Quitman with about 600 students—still considered a small school, but that is exactly what he loves.
Passmore is a single guy with only a few free minutes each day. He said, "Starting a new job and beginning grad school weren’t really what I had planned when I signed up to do a show at Murry’s every night in August. I may be a shriveled mass of a man come September." A parent in Guy states, "I’m not a happy camper finding out you’re leaving; but wish you the best. Little Jordon will be missing out on so much of your wonderful hands-on teaching ways."
You can be sure, his wise teaching and hands-on efforts will shine just as much wherever he goes. If you would like to catch him in person, there are still tickets available for "South Pacific" at Murry’s Dinner Playhouse or in his classroom starting next week.