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Small Investments Yield Big Rewards

Posted by on Thursday, June 27, 2013 in Peabody People, Summer 2013.

Ginny Johnson is pictured standing behind the right shoulder of Gov. Clement.

Smiles of Girl Scouts with a governor captured in a photo. Handmade dolls. Paintings of flags from an educational television show. Images like these make up the international teaching career of Virginia “Ginny” (Perry) Johnson.

Third-graders to adults in classrooms spanning Tennessee, California and Japan have benefited from the 1949 Peabody graduate’s teaching. And she doesn’t forget that her college education came to her as a gift.

Johnson was named after her mother’s friend, Virgie Wolfe. “When I was named Virginia, it was my lucky day,” she says.

Johnson lived with the Wolfes during her middle school years, and when it came time for college, the Wolfes paid her way.

Johnson has returned that favor with decades of support for student scholarships through the Peabody Roundtable donor society and now as a member of the Oak Leaf Society donor loyalty program at the Capstone, or highest, level. Annual gifts like hers provide the foundation for excellence at Peabody College and Vanderbilt University.

When Johnson enrolled in Peabody, World War II was just ending and teachers were needed. Her first real job was teaching fourth-graders and she also led a Girl Scout troop. One Scout project was making cloth dolls with ceramic heads, arms and feet. Johnson still has hers, named Jenny Lind. The troop was also honored to present then-Gov. Frank Clement with a new Scout government badge on

After Japan, the Johnsons settled in the San Jose, Calif., area. Johnson earned her ESL certificate and taught adult education five mornings a week for a decade. Now 85, Johnson is studying creative writing.

“I like to feel accomplishment,” she says.

The Oak Leaf Society recognizes committed donors whose annual gifts serve as the foundation for Vanderbilt’s growth. No matter how large or small—gifts to any area of Vanderbilt, given for two or more consecutive fiscal years, count toward Oak Leaf Society participation. Call (800) 288-0028 or email to learn more.



  • Maura K. Benanti

    July 7th, 2014

    My hat is off to Virginia Perry Johnson. My girls have been so blessed to be in girl scouts. Ladies like Johnson made it possible so that we have scouts today. Thank you!

  • Maura Richard

    November 11th, 2014

    Wow, at the age of 85 she is still studying. Hats off to her for being such an inspiration.

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