Brian Campbell’s biggest supporter without question is his mother, Diane.
Not surprisingly it was Diane Campbell who was among the first to congratulate Brian after he was announced as the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District’s 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year during the district’s Excellence in Teaching awards ceremony April 4 at the Longview Mansion.
Shortly after David McGehee, district superintendent, made the announcement amid the unveiling of a banner bearing Campbell’s name, Diane Campbell made her way through the crowd and toward her son. The two embraced and thereafter Brian Campbell tried his hardest to hold back tears that would soon emerge as he gave his acceptance speech.
“I was trying to hold it together,” Brian Campbell, a teacher at Summit Lakes Middle School, said during an interview with the Journal April 10 at the school. The speech/theater, broadcasting and video technology teacher had just returned to work after missing the beginning of the week due to illness. He was not – he joked – resting on his laurels. “Dr. McGehee said ‘will you talk?’ and I said ‘sure’ but I pointed at my mom. I could see her creeping up to the front there. It was a very proud moment.”
Diane Campbell’s rush to the podium was memorable, if not for anything else but the pure joy it brought to those in attendance.
“My entire life I wanted to be an educator,” Campbell said. “It just took me a long time to get to the point where I could be OK with that. It sounds weird to say that, but my parents always said ‘you need to be a teacher; you need to be a teacher. You really need to be a teacher.’
“My response to my parents was: ‘Teachers don’t make any money.’ Parents are right most of the time. It was one of those moments were my parents were right. My mom was like, “I told you so.’ Parents seem to always be right in that case. It was pretty emotional for me. I lost my father about 23 years ago and he would have been proud of me. He never got to see me go into the field of education but was one of those people that wanted me to be a teacher.”
Diane Campbell’s prideful jaunt to the stage didn’t go unnoticed by David Carlson, the principal at Summit Lakes, nor does Campbell’s passion for teaching.
“Brian Campbell does a great job,” Carlson said. “He’s a kid magnet. He not only does a great job in the classroom, but with school productions and getting kids plucked in different niches. Whether it’s with our fall musical, our talent show or our awards, not only is he a leader, he’s a fantastic representative of all of our teachers here at Summit Lakes.
“I was excited (when Campbell won Teacher of the Year). I can’t claim the most excited in the room because when his mom stood up, walked up to the front of the room to congratulate him – but you know what, that’s the kind of family that he has and that’s the feeling I had; I couldn’t wait to shake his hand. I was excited for him and for our school.”
Campbell, a 16-year teaching veteran who was on the original staff when Summit Lakes opened 13 years ago, said his driving force as an educator stems from an experience he had as a second-grade student. That experience has helped shape his teaching style.
“My whole philosophy in education – and I tell this story a lot – I had an event when I was younger. I had an accident where I was really injured and I missed a lot of second grade,” he said. “My family was very supportive but I had a really awful teacher. And I had a really awful principal. They were not sympathetic to me and it kind of changed me as early on as second grade. It changed me and how I deal with people. I didn’t want my students to have that same experience. Ever. That has been what I’ve brought with me this whole time.”
Christy Beavers, a speech and theater at Summit Lakes, considers Campbell her “work husband.” The two work hand-in-hand to produce the school’s annual end of-the-year award show and the school’s annual fall musical. They also share co-director titles for Summit Lakes’ winter talent show. Beavers described Campbell as ‘Mr. Everywhere, All the Time.’
“Mr. Campbell is an amazing educator as well as a director and a great fiend,” she said during a break from the award show rehearsal. “He is the other half of my brain. We kind of share the same brain. He’s one of the most creative people that I have ever met. He’s super dynamic. He has that impact; he touches each and every child’s life in a profound way.
“He’s got his fingers in many different pots and he does it all with style and grace and does it beautifully and never lets anything drops. I feel really honored and privileged to work with him and be his ‘work wife’ – we spend a lot of time together – and to be able to share this experience with him because is an amazing educator as well as person. It’s so well deserved. Outstanding individual.”