Campbell reigns as ‘Teacher of the Year’ at Mill Creek
MADISON – Since a first-grader, Cheryl Campbell has wanted to teach . . . but not for typical reasons. She is “Teacher of the Year” at Mill Creek Elementary School.
She wanted to teach “not because I always had wonderful teachers — I didn’t — but because I struggled so much and faded into the background. Nothing remarkable about me. Good grades seemed out of my reach, even when I sat at the kitchen table night after night with my dad helping me go over the multiplication table.”
“I remember more about how the few teachers made me feel than what they taught me . . . the smiles, explaining something 10 different times in 10 different ways and caring about things happening in my life,” Campbell said.
Campbell returned to school at age 40. She had worked as a hygienist several years but always wanted to teach. At one point, five in the family were attending college: Cheryl, her husband Stephen in law school at night and three children. Their older son was in the Marine Corps.
“Teaching is my passion,” she said. Campbell wants a happy, safe school. Students know she will take care of them no matter what, enjoy learning, search for knowledge, set/accomplish goals, care about others and prepare to one day go out into the world as a wonderful human being.
After college, she ‘joined’ Madison City Schools in 2004. She has taught grades 1-3 at Heritage Elementary School and now Mill Creek. She enjoys third grade for its transition status and students’ growing independence.
“The heart of any school is the relationship between students and their teachers. Building relationships is so important — I love them first and teach them second. I help students reach their highest potential by setting attainable goals,” Campbell said.
Flexibility is key . . . in scheduling, lesson presentations and even classroom seating. Students have “no limit (in achievements) with unconditional support from teachers, classmates and family. Nurture their potential,” Campbell said.
Her students love technology and researching topics, especially animals. Students create and present PowerPoints for speaking/listening experience.
Campbell created “Menu Math” after lunch at Steak and Shake. Students practice money skills and three-digit addition/subtraction. They write a “lunch order” and receive some money. Do they have enough to pay for their meals? How much change will they receive?
She grew up in Indianapolis, Ind. suburbs. After Florida Christian and Calhoun Community colleges, she majored in elementary education for a bachelor’s degree from Athens State University and a master’s degree from University of West Alabama.
Her husband, Stephen Campbell, is an attorney in Athens. Married 46 years, the Campbells have four children (Daniel Campbell, Melanie Upton, Andrew Campbell, Angie Harrison) and 15 grandchildren.
One more family member, Bentley the dog thinks he’s in charge.
“I love whitewater rafting but can’t swim. I once tumbled in Tampa’s Hillsboro River amongst alligators and nearly drowned,” Cheryl said.
Cheryl enjoys baking, especially decorated cakes, for family and friends. An avid reader, she creates teaching materials to make learning more fun.
A woodworker, Cheryl has built a kitchen table from scratch. She and Stephen like camping in national parks and treasure hunting in hole-in-the-wall antique shops.