Camas teacher takes top state honor

Special needs educator Campbell named Washington teacher of the year

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Amy Campbell, a special needs educator at Helen Baller Elementary School, teaches children on the first day of the 2019-20 school year. Campbell has been named Washington's 2020 Teacher of the Year and will be considered for the national title. (Contributed photo courtesy of Camas School District)

Cheers erupted at the Camas School District (CSD) Board of Directors meeting Monday night after school board members learned Camas educator Amy Campbell had been named Washington state’s “2020 Teacher of the Year” earlier that day.

CSD Assistant Superintendent Charlene Williams announced the much-anticipated news at the start of the school board meeting by playing a video from the 2020 Teacher of the Year ceremony, held at the Museum of Popular Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle.

“We are just over the moon,” Williams said, adding that Campbell, a special needs teacher at Helen Baller Elementary School, had highly impressed the CSD leaders who helped pull her answers together for the state’s 2020 Teacher of the Year selection committee. “These were deep, probing questions … and she was just blowing us away. I was like, ‘You don’t need our help, you’re nailing it.'”

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced this year’s winner.

“Every year we celebrate excellent teaching through the Teacher of the Year program,” Reykdal said. “These exceptional educators dedicate themselves to their students and their communities, and their passion for helping their students succeed is inspiring. Mrs. Campbell is a great example of what exceptional teaching means in Washington state.”

A CSD teacher for 12 years who helps students with disabilities integrate into the CSD school community, Campbell said in a press release sent to the media Monday evening that she believes all children can learn the power of inclusion.

“Amy’s commitment to finding ways to increase her students’ time in the general education setting with their peers is remarkable,” Reykdal said. “Her collaborative nature, working tirelessly to build a school community that welcomes all learners, is an immense benefit to her students.”

In a nomination letter for the regional teacher of the year selection committee, CSD Superintendent Jeff Snell wrote that Campbell’s enthusiasm for her work and students.

“Amy exemplifies what it means to be a learner for her students and colleagues. She excitedly embraces new challenges and opportunities to further develop her skills as a teacher and facilitates learning amongst her support staff,” Snell stated. “She knows that having her students included in the community beyond her classroom is critical for their development and happiness. … It is extraordinary and inspires us to do more.”

Earlier this year, Campbell told the Post-Record she was optimistic about her chances of being selected for the ESD 112 honor.

“Watch out, world. I’m competitive,” Campbell said. “You’re (talking about) my biggest pride in life. If you ask me what I do and I talk about teaching, watch out, because I’m going to tell you how much I love it and how awesome my students are. I think that stands on its own.”

In June, Campbell was named one of nine Regional teachers of the year and learned she would represent Educational Service District 112.

“These teachers are dedicated to their students’ success,” Reykdal said of the regional teachers vying for the 2020 Teacher of the Year title. “From helping them find success despite childhood trauma; to teaching them the skills to live confident, healthy lives; to focusing on learning literacy skills and helping students with disabilities succeed in their world, these teachers are focused on ensuring the whole child is supported and successful.”

The selection committee for the 2020 Washington Teacher of the Year included educators who have previously been named Teacher of the Year, as well as representatives from the Professional Educator Standards Board, Washington Education Association, Washington State Legislative Youth Advisory Council, Black Education Strategy Roundtable, Washington State Parent-Teacher Association, Ready Washington Coalition and the Association of Washington School Principals.

Campbell will now be considered for National Teacher of the Year, awarded by the Council of Chief State School Officers. The winner of the national title will be announced in the spring of 2020 at a White House ceremony.