Former Terrapins and Orioles mascot Johnson brings passion for hype to classroom

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Former Terrapins and Orioles mascot Johnson brings passion for hype to classroom

Science teacher Matt Johnson poses in his classroom.

Science teacher Matt Johnson poses in his classroom.

Science teacher Matt Johnson poses in his classroom.

Science teacher Matt Johnson poses in his classroom.

Brennan Guilds

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Being Watkins Mill High School’s unofficial hype man is certainly hard work, but science teacher Matthew Johnson knows what it takes, having been a mascot for both the University of Maryland Terrapins and the Baltimore Orioles.

His first jobs included being a server and working for a moving company, which is a job he heavily advises against pursuing. In college, he became a resident assistant where he developed his love of working with kids. “I loved being an RA (resident assistant) and, I encourage any [student leader] to be one,” Johnson said.

“You get your room and board [paid for], which is about $4,000 a semester at Maryland,” Johnson added.

When it came to becoming the mascot of UMD, he saw a friend walking with the mascot, and talked to the student inside the costume, who let him try out at a home basketball game and he got the job. However, when it came to becoming the Orioles mascot, things were different. “You literally have a sit-down, suit-and-tie interview,” Johnson said.

For being a professional mascot, Johnson made $100 a game. “The best money is in outside appearances and events that pay $60 an hour,” Johnson said. For those appearances, Johnson would “get in the costume, dance for little kids, take people’s hats off. Basically being a [jerk], which is right up my alley.”

His passion for working with people and helping them grow blossomed between his time as an RA and working with youth baseball leagues as a mascot. Being a kid who loved school and being very involved in student government helped prepare him for becoming a para-educator at the Mill.

“I started a three-year masters program, and that’s where I got certified in special education and biology,” Johnson said. He added his certification in biology because it was something he was passionate about.

During his tenure as a para-educator, Johnson met Ibrahim “Ibra” Samia and worked with him as a one-on-one para-educator. “I saw his struggle and I saw his family’s struggle so I wanted to help the family in some way,” Johnson said.

“In the end, it was just to help this kid out,” Johnson added.  And in the end he did, raising over $32,000 to pay for a custom chair so that Samia could become independent later in his life.

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