A lasting impression: Meet inspiring teacher, Donna Campbell

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It’s safe to say that we have all experienced at least one inspirational teacher who helped us to understand their subject more and taught us to become a better person. The best teachers pass on this burning enthusiasm to their students, inspiring students to view the subject through refreshed lenses and to see things from a different perspective. Some inspired students have even gone on to become teachers, which is the case for David Emanuel Academy mathematics teacher and Student Government sponsor, Donna Campbell:

“I feel teaching chose me at an early age.” She explained, “I remember playing school at home as a young child. I always helped any classmate “figure out” problems or whatever topic that they needed extra help in.  I guess that is why I encourage my students to “help” each other, which could be re-explaining a topic in his or her own words or supervising the other student to work out a problem.  I thought I would choose a profession in the medical field as a senior in high school and tried my hand at nursing but returned to my original love…teaching mathematics.”

Campbell has been inspiring young minds at DEA since 2019, however her expertise in high school and college mathematics courses spans over 39 years. A standout quality that she says began after she earned her Bachelors, Masters, and Specialist degrees in Mathematics Education from Georgia Southern University. She began the journey in her teaching career in 1986 at Glenville High School as the mathematics teacher and literary sponsor. In 1987 she continued her calling as the mathematics teacher and Y Club and FGE sponsor at Swainsboro High School. She held these positions until 1994 when she received the opportunity to work at Emanuel County Institute as a mathematics teacher, which was a title that she held until 2016. While at ECI, she wore the hat as a Beta Club sponsor for eleven years and as the Dawgs Cheerleading Coach for one year. It was also during this time that she received the award as Teacher of the year and as Georgia Council of Teachers Mathematics Teacher of the Year. In 2009, she added another title to her list of experience when she began a career as an adjunct professor at East Georgia College. In 2018 she said her goodbyes to EGC and began her adventure at DEA where she continues to illuminate young minds today.

“My position at David Emanuel Academy came open in January 2018 and has been a blessing to me.” She explained, “I had retired after 30 years in the public school system in 2016 and had 2 years of babysitting my grandchild before returning to teach at DEA.  I thoroughly enjoy working with the students and beside the staff at DEA. The administration team headed by Mrs. Haylee Free is a positive group of professionals who provide support to the student body and teaching staff. I hope to enjoy teaching for many years to come.”

This previous summer, Campbell was selected in Crider’s Teacher Pay It Forward campaign, a program that allows students and staff to submit nominations by sharing inspiring stories about all the deserving teachers within our community and how they are committing their efforts to providing a bright future for our youth. Only five teachers are chosen for the campaign and if selected they receive $1500 in extra classroom supplies. Campbell was recognized for her unyielding love and support for her students and as the teacher who “can be found in the football stands on Friday nights... She shows these kids that she's rooting for them in and out of the classroom.”

“At DEA, I believe in family and believe in showing just as much love in the classroom as I do in my own home.” She said with a smile. 

Donna has been happily married to her husband, Lee Campbell for 35 years. They have two sons, Scott Campbell, and Grant Campbell. Both of whom have blessed her with two “daughters” who they married in the same year, Scott's wife, Erica Campbell and Grant's wife, Jamie Campbell. Campbell also shared that she's extremely fortunate to have four grandchildren of whom she is very proud for each of their accomplishments.

“Just ask me and I will gladly give you an update.” She said with obvious pride as she spoke of her grandbabies, Athena, Ares, Graham, and Garrett.

She also shared that she has a strong affection for her two fur-babies, Oreo, who wakes the Campbell family with a sweet, good morning every day and their most recent addition, their blue heeler, Ringo, who she says, “is learning good manners.”

Although Campbell enjoys many "extra-curricular" activities including spending time with family, quilting, cross stitching, baking, reading, crocheting, and traveling, she also knows that inspirational teachers do not simply end work when the class ends. In fact, they live and breathe their subject, and happily extend their hours if it means they can impart their knowledge to more students. It was through these foundations that were imparted to her while she was a student that made her the pillar of success that she is today:

“I was blessed to have several fantastic teachers, who were supportive and extremely knowledgeable in his or her field. I can name every teacher I had from kindergarten through 12th grade. Each one of them made me the teacher that I am today! They showed me their love for learning through their teaching. They showed me their concern when I had growing pains and needed that extra help to make the best decision. I am so very thankful to each and every one of my past teachers from Clovis, New Mexico to Twin City, Georgia.” She said in conclusion as she smiled, reminiscing on those days.

Now that you’ve met the teacher and read her story, read her Q/A’s below to further understand Donna Campbell’s incredible values of teaching and how she’s changing and inspiring young lives in our community.

What have you found most rewarding in your career?

Campbell: Watching my students understand the concepts that I have taught them and then returning to tell me where they finally used some concept in their life because as students, they could not understand why they needed to learn so many “things”.

Do you feel that each of your students have left a lasting impression on you?

Campbell: I do. When I am in a public space and I hear, “Mrs. Campbell…” I am so glad to hear of his/her accomplishments (and being a parent is an accomplishment). It may take me a few seconds or so to “age” the face I am looking at to remember his/her name, but I am always glad to see my past students and hear which direction his/her life has taken!

What advice would you like to give to new or upcoming educators?

Campbell: Education is not for the weak of heart nor is it just a “job”.  It is a calling to help the younger generation become a productive member of society.  As a teacher I may not like the behavior of any given student at a given time, but I love that young soul who wants to learn and become independent!

How does it make you feel to see the success that many of your previous students have become?

Campbell: FANTASTIC!  I encourage my students to travel if they can and learn as much as they can. To hear their stories about their successes always brings a smile to my lips with a “way to go”!

If you could tell your past students or future students one thing that you hope will stick with them all throughout life, what would that be?

Campbell: Strive to be a good student, not a bad toad! Stay safe because you are the only one who can look out for yourself. Last but not least…if you need me, contact me, I’ll do my best to get you the help you need!

What’s a favorite memory or some of your favorite memories that you have from your time as an educator?

Campbell: Favorite is a word my students, past and present, would tell you that I have a hard time using because that makes one memory better than another.  I truly enjoy every day with my students to the best of our abilities and ask the good Lord to bless my students with ears to hear and motivation to learn so their lives can be easier.  I have laughed with my students, cried with my students, dressed-up for homecoming week with my students and disagreed with some behaviors of my students, but the wonderful memories I made with my students are many! 

If you would like to nominate a phenomenal local teacher for Durden Banking Company’s Teacher Spotlight, please send recommendations with their information to Brittany Hall, at Forestbladewriter@gmail.com.

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