College is ‘child’s’ play for JFK’s Duran


Johanna Duran got an early start on her career. A very early start.

She was barely in the door in her first year at John F. Kennedy Campus High School when she found her calling.

“I started tutoring kids in math in my freshman year,” Duran said. “You know, just my classmates or anyone that needed help with math. I enjoyed it.”

That led to a gig this summer where Duran travels into Manhattan a few times a week to continue her tutoring ways.

“I’m now tutoring kids down on 108th Street in the city,” Duran said. “I work 25 hours a week until I start school.”

That school will be Monroe College in the Bronx where Duran will major in early childhood education. It’s an area of study that has really captured the interest of the former Kennedy softball star.

“I always found it fascinating the way kids learn and how it makes them who they are when they grow up,” Duran said.

If she has half the success in chasing her new career as she did with the Lady Knights softball team, Duran will do just fine.

She was a part of a Kennedy softball machine that dominated the Bronx during her career in red and white. In the past three seasons, the Lady Knights posted an astonishing 35-4 regular-season record while winning back-to-back Bronx B-1 Division titles. The Lady Knights even made a spirited run to the championship game of the Public School Athletic League playoffs in Duran’s sophomore season, ultimately dropping a heartbreaking 7-6 decision to Scholars Academy for their only loss.

It is the memory of that magical run that Duran calls her finest at JFK.

“It felt like we were unstoppable,” Duran said. “It felt like the more we got, the more we wanted. It hurt when we lost in the championship game, but in my mind, I felt like we had the best season that we’d ever had before. We went undefeated all the way to the championship game. Not every team does that.”

But playing softball gave Duran much more than a truckload of victories. It gave her the incentive to remain diligent in the classroom, setting her on the right course for college.

“Softball meant a lot to me because it was something that made me keep getting good grades,” said Duran, who played both shortstop and left field for the Lady Knights. “If you failed a class, you couldn’t be on the team. So you learned about discipline being on the team. Now I think that will help me a lot when I go to college.”

Duran’s softball career at Kennedy came to an end in a playoff loss to Long Island City High School in May. That’s when Duran realized her time at Kennedy was coming to an end and how it all went by so quickly.

“I still remember when I first walked into the school for the first time and all I saw were the metal detectors, and I was like, ‘Do I really have to do this?’” Duran said. “It was a little intimidating. But I think the only thing I’ll really miss about Kennedy is the softball team. Other than that, I’m ready to move on.”

After a week-long family vacation to Cancun this summer as she takes a much-needed break from tutoring, Duran plans on going back to her summer job helping out younger kids struggling with math before heading to Monroe, where she also plans to continue her softball-playing ways.

Duran also will spend time on her long-time hobby, drawing. It’s a hidden talent she has mastered pretty well.

“I really love to draw,” Duran said. “That’s something that a lot of people don’t know about me, but I’ve been doing it since I was little. It’s mostly cartoons and stuff like that. But I also do landscapes. My mom actually has a few of my drawings hanging on the wall.”

When she’s not drawing, or tutoring, or hitting the books, Duran said she will return to Kennedy to watch the next generation of Lady Knights attempt to continue the school’s dominant play. That may lead to her adding softball coaching to her growing list of activities.

“I know I’ll come back to see them,” Duran said. “I’ll be back for some practices and for some games.

“And coaching? Yeah. You know, that might be fun.”