Ex-teacher still ‘educates’ as KW Realtor

After being a Realtor for 24 years and a Farragut High School teacher for four years prior to that, Farragut resident Gina Johnson still sees herself as an educator.

“As a realtor, you are still educating your clients,” said Johnson, a Realtor with Keller Williams Signature in Bearden. “Every day, you’re researching new materials.

“Part of being a Realtor is you have to educate buyers and sellers on the process,” she added.

“There are a number of teachers in the real estate profession. The pay is better.”

Johnson, a Knox County native, taught math to ninth through 12th graders at FHS then went to teaching adults at the Computer Learning Center and being a microcomputer consultant at the University of Tennessee. She ventured into real estate in 1996.

As an educator, she said the most rewarding experience was teaching a student, then later seeing that child become successful and want to give back to the community.

“I’ve had students who have found me on Facebook and say, “Mrs. Johnson, you wouldn’t believe what I’m doing now — I’m a teacher,” Johnson recalled.

On the flip side, she has helped first-time homebuyers obtain ownership of a home, helped people in hardship and seniors make that transition of selling their homes.

“The reward is just knowing that you’ve done the best that you can do, you’ve represented their interests well and you’ve helped them achieve the goal of either purchasing or selling a home,” Johnson said.

While noting she loved teaching, Johnson wanted more of a challenge.

“I just think I needed a change in routine,” she recalled. “I loved working with the kids but the (curriculum) was always the same.

And, “I’ve always been interested in technology and computers,” Johnson said.

Johnson already had two degrees – in medical technology and computer science — that gave her the opportunity to teach at the Computer Learning Center, later called Horizon.

“We did a lot of the training for people who worked in Oak Ridge,” she said. “Corporations would hire us to teach their clients how to use software packages, so I did software training for several years.”

Still, though, the material being taught was always the same. It had become routine, so Johnson sought another challenge.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Realtor,” she said. “It’s always been an interest of mine. I just thought, ‘you know, I think I’m just going to get my real estate license.’”

Johnson was with Coldwell Banker Wallace in Farragut for 22 years before she went to work for Keller Williams Signature two and a half years ago.

“I just like to be challenged, and I like technology,” she said. “I had an opportunity to go to Keller Williams (Signature), and their technology is phenomenal, so I made that decision to move.

“I love selling real estate,” Johnson added. “I love working with people. I love forming relationships with the buyers and the sellers.

“I’ve sold people houses, now I’m selling their children houses. That’s pretty neat … I can’t imagine doing anything different.”

Johnson also found “every day in real estate is completely different.

“You never have any two clients, two houses, any two things that are alike,” she added.

And Johnson loves the challenge.

“You’re always learning how to find solutions and put pieces together,” she noted. “That’s exciting.”

Reflecting on her teaching days, Johnson said both teaching and real estate requires self-discipline, energy and commitment to get the jobs done.

“In either one of those positions, you don’t have someone standing over you all the time,” she said.

“You’re accountable to certain standards.

“As a teacher, you have to work on the material that you’re presenting,” she said. “You’re successful if your student grasps the material.”

A realtor also must have a strong work ethic, be motivated, responsible and available, Johnson said.

However, she said a realtor has more time to “build a real network;” whereas, teachers “just kind of pass in the classroom.”