Coach Speaks to CES Students on Life Lessons

Coach Gives Callaghan Students Good Pep Talk on Life Lessons
Posted on 05/28/2024
Brandon Johnson, who has guided the Bengal football program for seven years, schooled students in grades 3-5 on inclusion, kindness, and building strengths. In particular, he gave students a pep talk to encourage them as they prepared to take spring Virginia Standards of Learning tests.

Using the sport of weightlifting as an illustration, he encouraged students to lift each other up and avoid behaviors that exhibit forms of hatred. His presentation included Callaghan students working together on the weights as a way to build encouragement and mutual support. Johnson also encouraged students to rely on their teachers for support.

“Brandon’s message is exactly what I wanted our student to hear,” said Callaghan Principal Lisa Hansford. “I want our students to lift each other up or be a spotter for someone when needed.”

Before becoming the head football coach at Bassett High School in Henry County, Johnson helped guide rival Magna Vista High School to two state football championships as an assistant coach. Since returning to his alma mater to coach
football, he has sought to mold his players into young men Part of Johnson’s message is that people need to lift more, hate less – a reference to both weightlifting and figuratively “lifting each other up.”  His speeches focus on inclusion, kindness, and building strengths. 

I think Mr. Johnson's speech was really uplifting by talking about bringing people up, and also being kind and respectful. My favorite part was having kids supporting each other by helping others,” said fifth grader Ryder Jackson.  Another fifth grader, Devin Kimberlin, said: "It was cool how he used lifting weights to explain how to deal with hard things in life. Like for the SOLs, they weigh a lot for students, but you have spotters (teachers) to support you."

AHPS leaders Kim Halterman and Melinda Snead-Johnson praised the Callaghan PTO for its role in arranging Johnson’s visit to Callaghan.  “We are so happy our students at Callaghan were able to enjoy this presentation,” said Halterman and Snead Johnson. “It is crucial that all of us in our community do whatever we can to encourage the good in others of all ages.  This is how we can work together for the good of both our kids and our community.”

Updates about the successes and hard work of AHPS students and staff are routinely available on the AHPS website,, and the AHPS Facebook page, AHPublicSchools.  Darrell Gleason is the division’s dedicated communication specialist, supporting efforts to help families and the general public know more about AHPS.  His position is supported by funding from The Alleghany Foundation.
“We believe it is important for students, staff, parents, and the general public – all of the stakeholders of AHPS — to hear about the good news of success,” said Gleason.  

AHPS was created through the July 2022 merger of Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center. The school division is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington. AHPS serves approximately 2,700 students.

AHPS news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools and on Instagram at ahpublicschools. The division website
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