October Student of the Month: Annie Johnson

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INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Annie Johnson from Independence may only be 12, but she has lots of stories to tell about success and drive at a young age.

When her sixth-grade teacher presented a challenge to her class last year, Johnson wanted to read for a new record.

"I always tell the students the goal is 5,000 pages, but if you want to do more, you can set goals past that," says Amanda Whitaker, Johnson's sixth-grade teacher. "I mentioned the highest I'd ever had a student read is 18,000 pages."

Johnson wanted to surpass that. She read her first 5,000 pages before Halloween. It came down to the last week of school.

"I remember the last three days of school we were watching a movie and all I did was sit in the back corner and read my book," Johnson said.

"Even the last day, she's like, 'nope, I'm going to do it'. And I was so proud of her," adds Whitaker.

Johnson read 20,000 pages in one school year.

She did while flipping back and forth between books and 4-H.

Her smile tells the story of her love for agriculture. She helps care for her family's animals, trains them and shows off her work around the state and Midwest.

"It teaches me to have responsibility," she says. "A lot of kids these days, I feel, they go home, they play video games, they don't have to worry about feeding the animals, or putting their clothes away or cleaning their rooms."

Now in 7th grade at Independence Junior-Senior High, Johnson mixes school with sports, 4-H and responsibilities at home.

She says when she feels overwhelmed, she thinks of her dad's advice to push through and persevere.

"I'd fall down and I'd hurt myself and he would say 'suck it up, buttercup' or 'work smarter not harder' and so, that's what keeps me going," Johnson said.