Elizabeth Kahn

Elizabeth Kahn

Larry R. Johannessen was born in 1947 and raised in Denver, Colorado. When he went to register for classes in high school, his counselor scheduled him into the vocational curriculum based on his address in the working class section of his community. Dissatisfied with the assumptions behind this decision, Johannessen elected to leave high school before graduating and enlisted in the Marines, joining the same unit in which his father had served: B (Bravo) Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division. This unit was later featured in the HBO series Generation Kill, which focused on the Battalion’s experiences in Iraq. Johannessen served two tours of duty in Vietnam, a country he had never heard of before enlisting. As a Marine, he was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation with one star, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with three stars, the Good Conduct Medal, and the Rifle Marksman Badge (1964-68). He left the service with an honorable discharge in 1968 at the rank of Sergeant.Upon leaving the Marines, Johannessen earned his G.E.D. and entered Ohlone College, a 2-year college in Fremont, California, from which he graduated with an A.A. with honors in 1973. He transferred to California State University Hayward (now East Bay), receiving his B.A. in 1975, graduating magna cum laude. From there Johannessen earned his M.A.T. in 1976 in English Education from the University of Chicago, the program run by George Hillocks, Jr. At the University of Chicago, he met Elizabeth (Betsy) Kahn, whom he married. They had been married for 27 years at the time of Johannessen’s death. Johannessen began working on his doctoral studies in 1983 at the University of Chicago, again under the mentorship of Hillocks. He completed his degree in 1997.Johannessen taught high school English at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois, from 1976 to 1989. While a doctoral student he began teaching at universities, including St. Xavier University in Chicago, Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., and Barat College in Lake Forest, Ill. In 2001 he became an assistant professor of English at Northern Illinois University. During his career at NIU, he served as Director of Undergraduate Studies and was promoted to the rank of full professor in 2007.Johannessen was a prolific author and presenter. His writing was published in a variety of journals, including The English Journal, The Clearing House, Research in the Teaching of English, The Social Studies, and other journals. He was also the author, co-author, or coeditor of nine books published by Heinemann, NCTE, and Merrill, plus two textbooks on vocabulary study for Kendall/Hunt. His work fell into three general areas: teaching the literature of the Vietnam War, designing instruction using a structured process approach, and the experiences of beginning English teachers. Many of these publications were coauthored with his wife, Elizabeth Kahn, and his close friend Tom McCann.

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