A Madison group is taking a terrible crime and turning it into a positive.
Next month, the Madison Education Foundation will rename two grant programs in honor of a former teacher murdered earlier this year.
Carl Ericsson is serving a life sentence for shooting and killing Norm Johnson in January. The crime stemmed from a decade old grudge. And as Ericsson sits in prison, Johnson's legacy is living on through the "Norm Johnson Memorial Educator Grant Endowment."
Those who knew him say Johnson valued the opportunity to teach and coach thousands of students throughout his career.
Following his death, the Madison Central School Educational Foundation plans to continue that passion.
"We are actually combining two grant programs. They will still be the same type of grants we're awarding but will be renamed," Madison Central School Educational Foundation Executive Director Monica Campbell said.
The newly-named "Norm Johnson Memorial Educator Grant Endowment" will fund $350 mini-grants focused on helping educators pay for special projects, both in and out of the classroom.
Like many in Madison, Superintendent Vince Schaefer was Johnson's student. It was many years ago, but Schaefer says Johnson left a lifetime impression on him.
"As a high school kid, I was just as rough as anybody was and he was a kind, gentle person who took us aside and worked with us and tried to get the best of us," Schaefer said.
Even in retirement, Johnson volunteered at the Madison Central School District. Organizers hope the endowment will help his legacy live on.
"Now the name Norm Johnson will live forever as a way of helping educators help children. And from my perspective, it's pretty good business," Schaefer said.
Anyone can contribute to the endowment to honor Johnson. If you'd like to help, contact Campbell at email@example.com or 605-256-7710.
Organizers hope to raise $10,000.