PFC Spotlight: Zach Johnson (AKA "Coach"), PE Teacher
Thu, Sep 23 10:30am

This week, we’re getting to know Zach Johnson, known to all our Thornhill students as “Coach”.  Every week, Coach gets our kids outside, moving, playing, learning, and having fun!  He is loved by our students and is a tremendous asset to team Thornhill.  His role is funded by your generosity to the Thornhill PFC. 

How long have you been teaching at Thornhill?

I started working at Thornhill in November 2014, first as a substitute PE teacher, then as a full time one. I’ve been a teacher in Oakland since 2000 and have been a schoolteacher since 1992. Most of that time, I taught 2nd grade, but I've also taught 1st, 4th and 5th.

What do you like best about the students and community at Thornhill?

The community at Thornhill is wonderful, the interconnectedness, the involvement of the parents. The way that the kids get along, both inside and outside of school, inside and outside of class. I see kindness and respect, in the way that older kids look after and mentor younger ones and in the way all the children play together, regardless of whatever differences they may have. 

Why did you choose to become a PE teacher?

PE is important, particularly to elementary students. Kids these days have so many options and distractions that encourage sedentary lifestyles. A healthy lifestyle, with physical activity will result in a much higher quality of life and will have long lasting positive health effects.

I feel it is important to offer an opportunity and an example of how fun and easy healthy exercise can be. I was not a jock, or even a sporty kid, growing up. I didn't like PE as a kid (gasp!), so I know and understand the reluctance that some kids feel about it. Those are the kids that I really want to reach, and that I think I am best at reaching, and who need the knowledge of how physical activity can be important for them.

Why is PE so important for K-5 kids?   

  • PE reduces stress - physical activity becomes an outlet for releasing tension, anxiety, and facilitates emotional stability and resilience.
  • PE supports learning in other subject areas – it reinforces knowledge learned across the curriculum.  It serves as a lab for application of content in science, math, and social studies.
  • PE strengthens peer relationships - physical education can be a major force in helping children socialize with others successfully and provides opportunities to learn positive people skills. 

 Thank you, Coach!


It’s time for the rally caps and fourth quarter chants! We’re counting down to the buzzer, as we cheer on our Thunderbirds in the 2021 Thornhill Annual Fund! Our goal is to reach 100% family participation - your donation (of any amount!!) gets us closer and closer to our goal of raising $1000 per student. These funds provide our children with essential weekly programs such as PE, Library, Gardening, African Drumming, five Teacher Aids and much more! Let’s go Thunderbirds!!! 

Easy Ways to Donate:

Via check: Please mail this form and a check to Annual Fund at 1792 Indian Way, Oakland, CA 94611.

Online: Visit to set up installments or to make a one time donation. 

Company matching doubles your donation! To see if your employer offers matching gifts, visit Charity Navigator and follow the simple instructions to submit a match request online.

If your company does not process matching gifts online, a matching gift form must be submitted with the donation form. PFC Non-Profit 94-2529197

Questions? Please email us at