The second person I will recognize in my Admiration Project passed away in February of 2014. (I did not realize that the anniversary of his passing would coincide so closely with my post – just another one of those coincidental moments that seem to follow me around.) This admirable man was one of my favorite high school teachers. He primarily taught me numerous levels of mathematics, but he also taught me the arts of patience, compromise and giving.
Mr. Campbell was my Algebra II and Geometry teacher during my sophomore year of high school. Coach Campbell, as he was also known, coached every sport available at the time, basketball — both girls and boys, football and baseball.
Patience… I am of the opinion that to be a teacher, especially a high school teacher, one must be blessed with more than an average share of the trait. Aside from my own father, I’ve not met many people with such an abundance of the stuff. Mr. Campbell was the epitome of patience; he had me in 2 of the 6 classes he taught a day back in 1977-78. He taught me patience by exhibiting his own never-ending poise, restraint, self-control and fortitude for EVERY student in the class. He miraculously enabled each of us to learn at our own pace. He taught us to be patient with ourselves while we were learning and how to be patient with one another as he devoted time to each “best method” of learning to the students in the class. He was a champion of being able to engage the full room on all levels.
Compromise… He taught us all a lesson on not only how to compromise, but when. I was ten years out of high school and twelve years past the teachings of Coach Campbell when I came upon this Far Side cartoon. It remains one of my favorites and immediately brought the memories of this man to mind. He had quite the dry wit. It was our Geometry class that was in need of some compromise – those “proof” exercises were going to be make or break for several students in the class. Coach Campbell made a compromise with those students… it allowed them to still be successful and pass the class, it allowed the rest of the class to have the benefit of extended learning, and it allowed him to fill everyone’s needs. A definite master of compromise.
Giving... There were a handful of us math aficionado’s, for lack of a better word, (like geek), who couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Mr. Campbell recognized that, and in turn, gave of himself to us. He gave up half of his lunch hour to hold a “private” class for less than 5 people! I think it ended up being only two of us, but as long as anyone showed up, he gave his time and knowledge. I’m sure he could have used that time to prepare for the afternoon classes, grade papers, work on “things” that coaches do for his team, or just simply take a break. But he didn’t, he gave as long as anyone was there to receive.
Mr. Campbell was a man who made a difference in this girl’s life. He was an amazing example of many things, but selflessness is what comes to mind. I am disappointed in myself for never telling him how much I admired him, but I hope that he somehow knew, since I kept showing up for “lunch-time math.”
He continued to give after his teaching career ended, and in his honor I am making a donation to Blount County Community Action Agency’s Meals on Wheels.