Dallas security guard honored for work with troubled teens

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DALLAS — He has no children of his own, but Charles Johnson has been a parent to dozens of troubled students.

For more than a decade, the North Dallas High School security worker has taken in teenagers who otherwise wouldn't have a home.

"They come from broken families, abandoned, homeless — just out there — the families give up completely," he said.

In 2001, Johnson took in his first student, a homeless teenager who he found sleeping in the bushes at the high school.

He has rescued 37 other teenagers since, all of whom have lived in his South Oak Cliff home.

Johnson has his own house rules.

He encourages the students to get jobs, do chores, and requires them to do community service.

In return, he provides them with a caring home and love.

"I see him almost like my father, and I don't know my father; I see him as my father," said Angel Rivera.

Rivera moved in with Johnson last year after he said his mother kicked him out of the house.

All the kids Johnson takes in attend North Dallas High School. In most cases, he has become the legal guardian for the students.

On Tuesday, Alliance/AFT, a Dallas teachers union, honored Johnson for his work with the students.

The group gave him an award for his efforts with at-risk kids.

"If I can change a direction, I guess that's what makes me happy," Johnson said. "If I can change that direction, and ultimately a life."

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com