Johnston notified school officials and coaches two weeks ago that she would not be returning to her post in 2012-13. Hired last July to replace current ninth-grade principal Bill Giovino, her stint as Lebanon's AD comes to an end after one year.
"I certainly enjoyed it, I'm just a lover of sports," she said Tuesday night after helping with fall physicals for roughly 250 student-athletes. "It was absolutely a challenge, but I knew it would be going into it."
Johnston, a 1980 alum, cited family and a craving to return to the classroom as the main factors in her decision. A mother of two teenager daughters, she intends to fill an opening in the physical education department at the high school.
"I love teaching, I love coaching," she said. "I think I kind of missed the kids being in the classroom, the day-to-day contact and rapport."
Prior to her AD stint, she spent 22 years teaching in the district, in addition to coaching several different athletic teams. Along with softball and girls' basketball, her most recent coaching endeavor was an eight-year term as head coach for the varsity field hockey program.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge of getting back into the classroom," said Johnston, already crafting lesson plans. "Hopefully, I can pick up where I left off and get back in that groove.
A three-sport standout as a student, Johnston took her athletic talents to Eastern College (later renamed University) where she earned degrees in psychology and health, science and physical education. She followed that with a trip to graduate school to focus on exercise physiology.
"I'm older than my teaching age," joked Johnston, who spent six years following grad school working in a hospital-based environment.
One thing Johnston's learned over the years as a student-teacher/coach-athlete is that records are not always a true measurement of success.
"For me, I'm a three-sport athlete who was involved in teams that were wildly successful and teams that never won at all," she explained. "What I carry with me, my mission is to give the kids an experience that's going to stay with them. I don't remember wins and losses. For me personally, I remember the relationships I had, the feeling of being part of something bigger than myself."
And despite the Cedars posting a county-low win percentage this school year, she fully believes her student-athletes received championship-caliber coaching.
"I really do believe we have the best coaching staff in the county," added Johnston. "Maybe our wins and losses aren't up there with the rest of the county, but our coaches are into our kids. We have people that are only here because of the kids and what they can do for the kids.
"We know what our kids have to go through. ... (Some) coaches pick up kids that don't have rides, literally shutting kids back and forth, and they're not putting in mileage. They are willing to help. It's can we do this, and can we do that? It's all about the kids and what's best for them."
As for now, Johnston will continue to assist with Cedars athletics, at least until a replacement is found. She will also see her oldest daughter off to Ryder University in the fall, while her youngest will be a sophomore at Cedar Crest.
"I'm not going to leave them hanging. I'll keep working until they find somebody just to make sure that all the ducks are in a row," said Johnston, who lives in Lebanon with her husband of 21 years, a school psychologist in Berks County. "I don't want to leave things in a disarray."