Shelly Campbell, English teacher at John Marshall High School, cries as she talks about her favorite part of the job.
âJust see the kids understand. See the kids when they think they can’t do something and be able to do it,â Campbell said. “There is nothing like it.”
Campbell was the 2011 Oklahoma City Public School Teacher of the Year. OK FRIDAY asks our All Star Scholars and Leaders team at the time of John Marshall’s graduation to describe the teacher who had the greatest influence on them, she is still named in the majority of their responses.
Growing up, Campbell vowed that she would never be a teacher, after seeing both parents dedicate their entire lives to education. However, Campbell’s mind quickly changed after he was asked to be an English teacher for a friend’s brother in college.
âI (decided) that there is no fighting at this point, I love (teaching),â she said. “This is what I have to do.”
Campbell’s first teaching position upon graduation was at John Marshall High School and she has been there since, devoting nearly 30 years of service to the local community.
Campbell admits that she was just launched into the job with very little guidance, but found her way as one of John Marshall’s favorite teachers.
âThere’s no reason to go when you like it,â said Campbell.
According to 2017 data from the Oklahoma City Public School District, 71.1% of students are entitled to a free and reduced lunch at John Marshall’s, compared to 62.7% on average for the state.
Campbell believes in the power of fostering a comfortable and supportive environment for his students.
âSchool can be a safe place. A place where (the students) can be fed and lovedâ¦ âsaid Campbell. âSometimes school can be a retreat for (the students). So you want to be that sweet place that they can land, for you to believe in, for you to push them. “
As for Campbell’s teaching philosophy, she believes in connecting with each student, so that they can learn in the best way. Campbell makes sure to take an individualistic approach to each student so they can discover what motivates them to be the top performing learner.
âI really focus on building relationships (with my students), getting to know them, seeing who they are and learning what they like and what they don’t like,â Campbell said.
Despite all the hard work Campbell puts into her teaching, she recognizes that the public has many misconceptions about her profession. On the one hand, she believes that many people don’t realize how much time and dedication teachers devote to their students, not just working during the school day, but late at night and early in the morning. Also, the public may think that teachers can easily take a summer vacation, but Campbell has been working on something for the school every summer vacation day.
âThere is a lot of joy in this profession,â said Campbell. “But if you don’t go through with it, you are fooling yourself and your students, in my opinion.”
As for Campbell’s life outside of work, she is married to her husband, who is also a teacher at John Marshall and has two grown children. She enjoys reading and genealogy of her family history by visiting ancient cemeteries.
Campbell’s passion for education can be summed up in one quote:
âYes, I teach English, but I teach children first,â she said.