Johnnye Mae Stevenson was a no-nonsense teacher with a soft spot. In the classroom, she was a feared ruler and loving mother figure. She could quiet an unruly class with a glare and comfort a student taunted by classmates.
"She was actually everything you wanted a parent to be, except she happened to be your teacher," said Kendra McNealy, one of Ms. Stevenson's former pupils at Elmer A. Henderson Elementary School in East Baltimore.
Ms. Stevenson, who was a teacher and later vice principal in the city school system for more than 30 years, died Friday of renal failure at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was 74.
Ms. Stevenson, who lived in Woodmoor of Baltimore County, taught at Cross Country Elementary, Arlington Elementary, and Henderson Elementary schools. She was later vice principal at Henderson Elementary.
"She just loved people and children," said Evelyn W. McIntosh of Baltimore, a longtime friend. "She wanted the best out of children and would accept nothing less."
A small woman with a stern expression, a knack for giving weekend homework and penchant for attaching red stars to outstanding assignments, Ms. Stevenson taught mostly upper elementary school grades from about 1955 until 1985.
She served as vice principal at Elmer Henderson Elementary from 1985 until she retired in 1990.
"Kids and their learning were always first with her," said Lee Winstead, a colleague who taught with Ms. Stevenson at Henderson Elementary. "She put all of her energies into seeing that they [pupils] learned."
In addition to teaching, colleagues and former students said Ms. Stevenson patrolled the school ground before and after classes to ensure the youngsters' safety.
"Whenever kids saw her coming, they stopped what they were doing and straightened up," Mrs. McNealy said. "I saw her a few years ago and although she hadn't been my teacher for 25 years, I felt like I had to act properly. She commanded that much respect."
A native of White Oak, S.C., Ms. Stevenson came to Baltimore in the 1950s to attend the former Morgan State College, from which she graduated about 1955 with a degree in elementary education. She received a master's degree in education from Loyola College in 1985.
She began teaching after she graduated from Morgan State.
In her retirement, Ms. Stevenson started an outreach program at the John Wesley United Methodist Church in Walbrook, where youngsters gathered after school for organized activities and tutoring. The program ended about three years ago.
Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at the church, 3200 W. North Ave.
Ms. Stevenson is survived by two aunts, Lugenia Boyles of Baltimore and Maggie Brown of Winnsboro, S.C.; and an uncle, Horace Boyle of Baltimore.
Pub Date: 12/23/98