A First Chapter: Meet the Johnsons


Last week, we introduced you to our new project: A First Chapter, stories of promise, growth and inspiration through early education.

A First Chapter is borne out of the desire to celebrate the families, educators and communities that help plant the seeds of success and to show the importance of supporting young children. Because their first chapter is our next chapter.

Now, we’re excited to introduce you to our first family: Meet Kimberly Johnson, a 47-year-old mother of three. Kimberly just completed her associate’s degree and is already back in school working on her nursing degree, while also working as a medical assistant.

A First Chapter – Johnson Family | West Philadelphia, PA

"I’m doing it for my children … Education is the key." – Kimberly Johnson: student, medical assistant, mother of 5-year-old Kingston. #afirstchapterFollow their education journey at A First Chapter: afirstchapter.org

Posted by Waterford Institute on Thursday, November 2, 2017

“I hadn’t graduated since 1988, with my diploma from high school,” she says. “Another two-and-a-half years, I’ll have my B.S.”

“So I’m back at it. I worked hard, so hard. But I have to do it. I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it for my children, to set an example for them so they continue their education. Education is the key.”

Kimberly is also working to pass that philosophy down to her children, especially 5-year-old Kingston who participated in our Waterford UPSTART pilot in Philadelphia this past year and started kindergarten this fall. Waterford UPSTART is an at-home kindergarten readiness program that uses Waterford’s adaptive curriculum and parent support services to prepare children for school.

“All I want him to do is, stay in school, do his work, stay on task, and make me proud. Sky’s the limit for my son.”

As a nonprofit partner for educators and families, we know how important it is that every child get a chance at success from the start. That’s why we think it’s so important to share stories of families like the Johnsons—people committed to giving themselves and their children a better future through education.

Help Us Spread the Word

Follow along at afirstchapter.org or “like” Waterford on Facebook where we will share new stories each week.

If you enjoy the stories and, like us, consider early education to be of urgent importance, please consider sharing A First Chapter videos and images. Together, we can create awareness of how important it is to ensure every child has an equal shot at success from the very start.



Fade from black

Lower third: West Philadelphia, PA

Text on screen: Kingston

Kimberly Johnson: “Kingston? Hey honey.”

Kimberly: I love being a mom. It’s sweet, you know. Everything my mom taught me, I teach them. You gotta do your homework, read, so that’s what I try to do with him. So my name is Kimberly Johnson, 47 year-old, mother of 3. I have a 25 year-old, a 17 year-old, and now a 5 year-old.

Cut to Kingston and mom eating food

Kingston: Thanks mom.

Kimberly: You’re welcome. Go ahead.

Kimberly: Kingston is a loveable child, very playful, very easy to get along with. Loves to play sports, the movies, he’s just a good child, he just likes to have fun.

Kingston: Watch this.

Kimberly: Boy what you watchin’? Oh who that is?

Kingston: Kofi Kingston.

Kimberly: Uh huh. What he do? Go ahead, show ‘em.

Kimberly: He gets what he wants, I always say King gets that the King wants. So he bosses them around. “Mommy you do this, you do that.” You know…yeah, he the boss.

I just graduated May 13 with my Associates in Science and Allied Health. I’m back at it yes. Education is the key. I have to do it, I’m doing it for me, I’m doing it for my children, set an example for them. That they can continue to do good in school and continue they education.

Kingston: (Spelling) K-I-N-G-S-T-O-N

Kimberly: I constantly make him write. I think he needs to. The reading to him and the sight words, I’m constant with the sight words, because those words gonna be in his synthesis and he needs to know this.

Waterford UPSTART computer program: Click on each letter, and say the letter sound with me.

Kinsgon: “E, E, R”

Kimberly: He has to be able to comprehend, if somebody’s speaking to him, or going to school, when he’s starting kindergarten. He thinks he’s in kindergarten now. I said, “no you’re not in kindergarten yet, but get ready to start, and it’s gonna be a little different. All this stuff that we doing they gonna be doing this.”

Kingston: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. I did 9.

Kimberly: When I did the interview with the one Catholic school, the teacher was very impressed. She said, “He did excellent!” And I’m like, okay… You’re maturing, okay.

Kingston: Look at my shoes, these are my dinosaur pairs.

Kingston: MOM! MOM! Is this the right foot?

Kimberly: That’s the right foot, yeah.

Kingston: Oh yeah, it’s the right foot.

Kimberly: Pull and push. Pull and push.

Kingston: Got it. Got it.

Kimberly: He’s more mature, he was acting like a baby all before, now it’s like, he’s his own person. He’s beyond ready for next year. All I want him to do is, stay in school, do his work, stay on task, and make me proud. Sky’s the limit for my son.


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