Mr. Campbell, my fifth grade teacher!
August 30, 2006
It’s been such a great day! My adored, all-time favorite teacher, Mr. Campbell, came to visit us! He just finished a masters degree at Johns Hopkins, and he’s driving home to San Diego, so he came through Colorado Springs to visit. I hadn’t seen him in years, so it was great to have him here.
Mr. C is a gem of the educational system, and I am truly lucky to have been one of his students. I was in his fifth grade class in Frankfurt, Germany, 22 years ago. I realized even then that teachers with his passion, creativity, and humor don’t come along often. Our class was an experimental project that consisted of students in the gifted and talented program, and every day Mr. C found ways to expand our eager minds. We included technology in ways that were rare in the mid-80s. We learned about government by developing our own country, complete with a constitution, elected leaders, political campaigns, laws, and money. We put on a play. We went camping, and learned how to navigate the forest with a compass. I still look back on that year as the most creatively and academically rewarding year of my life.
When the year ended, the school did not continue our gifted and talented program into the sixth grade. My classmates and I were divided into separate classrooms, and school was boring again. I remember that my sixth grade teacher spent an entire month teaching the difference between positive numbers and negative numbers. Some of my new classmates didn’t understand, so none of us could advance until everyone was ready. One day I was so bored that I completed all 70 pages of my math workbook. I asked the teacher for something more advanced, but she wasn’t able to provide it.
Fortunately Mr. Campbell was still around, teaching the next year’s fifth grade class. Several of my friends felt just as unstimulated as I did, so we visited Mr. C for more inspiration. That year he helped us to make a movie about our responses to the Cold War and nuclear threat. Our movie was called “The Day Before,” and showed different kids’ possible responses to an imminent nuclear war. It won a nationwide competition. We all got back together the following year to make another movie.
Mr. Campbell and I have kept in touch over all these years. Ever since I was a kid, I have given him credit for my desire to help kids and pursue a career in education. Now I have a masters degree in education, and I dream of teaching photography to kids. Today I feel rejuvenated in that goal.
Our fifth grade class. Can you guess which one I am?