Leavelle McCampbell Middle School
1.) Tell us about your role as an educator. What does your typical day look like?
I start every day at Leavelle with a sense of pride and joy as I see my school. I serve a heart-of-gold, community-based school rooted in nearly 100 years of tradition in a three year-old building. A big part of what I do is connecting people to provide the best and most positive experiences for our students. Of course a typical day usually starts with greeting students, hugs, smiles, laughs, high-fives, but then each moment after that can be so different. A day may include organizing our alumni to welcome and greet students on the first day, meeting with community members to provide leadership and service opportunities for our students, planning with our PTO for a positive behavior reward, observing teachers, leading a professional learning community, meeting with students…each day for me is so diverse. It’s why I love what I do.
2.) What’s your education philosophy summed up in one sentence?
Let your life be your example.
3.) Why did you become an educator?
As a military child, I never felt like I had a home or fit in until my Dad retired to Aiken, SC. At Aiken High School, my teachers built my confidence and poured so much life into me. At the same time, my Dad became a teacher who exemplified what it meant to care about students, grow them, and provide opportunities. My Dad has a 409 philosophy. It took the scientist 409 tries to get the formula right. He exemplified resilience in what you do and what the beautiful outcome for children is when you strive to continuously improve and have an undying passion for moving all students to meet their fullest potential. It made me want a little piece of that meaningful endeavor.
4.) As an SCASCD Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater effect on education in your community and beyond?
As an SCASCD Emerging Leader I hope to have a greater effect on helping to grow more leaders. I’m passionate about unleashing talent and empowering others.
5.) What types of professional development (books, DVDs, webinars, courses) have made a difference in your career?
The most powerful professional development I participated in was Courage to Teach. It was truly soul searching. It was not about telling or giving me the answers but guiding me to form my own conclusions and answers by thinking deeply, reflecting, and having meaningful conversations with other educators.
6.) Was there a pivotal moment when you realized your career choice in education was the correct one? Describe that time.
I would never say there was a time I thought education wasn’t the correct career for me. As long as I get to interact with students on a daily basis, I know I am where I am supposed to be.
7.) If you could make one major change in education, what would it be?
Having worked in very affluent districts as well as Title I districts, if I could wave a magic wand I would create equity for students-financial, personnel, facilities, infrastructure, experiences, and support.
8.) What is your most rewarding experience as an educator?
There have been a lot of moments in my career I would deem successful. My most rewarding experiences would probably be considered small wins. A moment I now remember vividly is of a student who I taught in sociology. We were in the social inquality unit learning about prejudice, discrimination, by-stander effect, and so on. One day she burst into tears. I had a conversation in the hallway as she shared what was going on with her friend group. In a tactful, educated way I explained she was being mistreated, it was not acceptable, and how to address it in a respectful, productive manner. Four years later as an administrator she tagged me in a post that the interaction changed her life. She now raises her own children to be advocates for themselves thanks to our interaction. This is just one small example of the power we as educators have to make a difference. The triumphs are in the legacies we leave in the children we effect.