Norwalk Middle School P.E. teacher receives state’s top teaching honor
Charity Campbell, a physical education teacher known for her leadership, high expectations and can-do spirit, is the 2012 Iowa Teacher of the Year, Gov. Terry Branstad announced at a school assembly in Norwalk.
“The Teacher of the Year award honors exceptional educators who are helping to redefine education,” Branstad said. “I congratulate Charity and thank her for her outstanding work to motivate, challenge and inspire others.”
Campbell teaches 6th and 7th grade P.E. at Norwalk Middle School in the Norwalk school district. She also mentors other teachers in the district and serves as the girls’ varsity track coach at Norwalk High School.
“Great teachers and leaders are the heart and soul of great schools,” said Jason Glass, the Iowa Department of Education director. “As educators, we look to the example set by tremendous teachers such as Charity Campbell to help move Iowa’s education system forward.”
Campbell says she loves to motivate all students.
“I want them to love physical education and to understand why we do it,” Campbell, 37, said. “P.E. is so much more than rolling out a ball and playing a game. It’s about fitness, health, teamwork and communication – real-life skills that students will take far beyond my class.”
Campbell’s leadership extends well beyond the walls of the gymnasium. She helped create a mentoring program for first-year teachers in the Norwalk school district. She trains other Norwalk teachers to use activities that help students focus in the classroom. In 2010, her P.E. program was named an observation school through PE4Life, a nonprofit organization that strives to improve children’s health and wellness through quality physical education.
“Mrs. Campbell has served as one of the most caring, intuitive mentors within the Norwalk school district through my years of schooling,” Ashley Lutrick, a former student, wrote in a recommendation letter.
Campbell also says that schools must embrace innovation to fit the changing needs of students and families.
In her application, she wrote: “It is inevitable that we must change the way we educate our youth. The students are changing every day with the technology they have access to and the way they are able to use the information. The demographics of their families are changing. The government also is making a strong push for change.”
Campbell has been a teacher for 15 years. She worked in Eldora-New Providence schools before coming to Norwalk in 1998.
She was nominated by Norwalk Middle School Principal Ken Foster. Norwalk Superintendent Denny Wulf called her “a driving force in Norwalk education.”
“Her innovative programs and leadership make Norwalk a role model for mentoring, cooperative learning, athletic programming and the general health of all students. In an era of increased concern about wellness, Charity is a visionary and proactive leader in that arena.”
Finalists for the Iowa Teacher of the Year award are:
- Brenda Becker, a science teacher at Maquoketa Valley Middle School in Delhi;
- Amy Lockhart, a 4th and 5th grade teacher at Northern University School, formerly the Malcolm Price Laboratory School, on the University of Northern Iowa campus in Cedar Falls;
- Vickie Weber, an English/language arts teacher at Springville High School in Springville;
- Deadra Stanton, a language arts teacher at Mason City High School in Mason City.
Campbell and the finalists will be honored at a luncheon on October 28 at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. Campbell’s tenure as Iowa Teacher of the Year will run from January to December of 2012.
The Iowa Teacher of the Year award was established in 1958. The annual program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. Honorees serve as ambassadors to education and act as liaisons to primary and secondary schools, higher education and organizations across the state.