Find out more about the newest Katy ISD namesake, Amy Campbell, and how her passion for education and creating programs for children with special needs has impacted our community.
KATY MAGAZINE | April 2018
By Angie Waller and Katrina Katsarelis
On Monday March 26th, 2018 the Board of Trustees named Elementary School #41 after retired educator Amy Campbell. Amy Campbell Elementary will serve Cross Creek Ranch and Churchill Farms communities and is expected to open in the Fall of 2018.
Getting the Big News
“My first thought was that I wished I could tell my mom who passed away in 2014. She would have been thrilled," says Campbell. "I was so shocked that the district was considering naming Elementary #41 after me, but after I got over the initial shock, I started getting excited. Campbell says she is delighted to be part of the Katy ISD legacy and see all the students that will pass through Campbell Elementary. "I plan to be there to on the first day of school to welcome students as they arrive,” she says. "Amy has spent her life devoted to students and their families," says Rebecca Fox, Katy ISD board of trustee member. "As an educator, she saw the potential in each student and sought to develop their strengths and confidence," Fox says Campbell is kind, patient, and loving and is the type of person who delights in seeing the every day miracles in young people's lives.
Katy ISD Career Accomplishments
Campbell received her Bachelor's degree in Elementary and Special Education from Sam Houston University and began teaching in Katy ISD in August of 1982, where she was an adaptive behavior teacher for Katy High School at the original Odessa Kilpatrick School in Old Katy. After that she taught at Katy High School as a Life Skills and Work Based Learning teacher, and then James E. Taylor High School as a Life Skills and Work Based Learning teacher.
Helping Students with Developmental Disabilities
During her career in Katy ISD she helped pilot the LIFE Skills program at Katy High School and along with a colleague ran the Occupational Lab where students with intellectual and developmental disabilities learned work-related skills by doing small jobs for area businesses.
Later, she worked with another teacher to expand the Vocational Adjustment Class (VAC) to establish partnerships with businesses that allowed staff to bring the students into their place of business to learn work skills in real life situations. The program name was later changed to the Work Based Learning program and now exists at all Katy I.S.D. high schools.
While at Katy High School, she and her colleagues started a swim program for students with special needs. The program was later named the Adaptive Aquatics program and was instituted at many schools throughout the district.
In 1995, Campbell pioneered the Life Skills and Work Based Learning programs at Taylor High School, and in 2005 was voted Taylor High School Teacher of the Year. In 2000, a fellow teacher and she founded the second Texas high school chapter of Best Buddies, a global program dedicated to building one-to-one friendships between students with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), offering social mentoring while improving the quality of life and level of inclusion for a population that is often isolated and excluded. She remained the sponsor of the program until her retirement in 2015.
Campbell misses working with the students and seeing them grow and gain confidence as they learn new skills. “It is extremely rewarding to still see many of my former students who are successfully employed in the Katy community. Some of them have been loyal employees for over 25 years,” she says.
Blended Family Roots
Campbell was the youngest of six in a family that included a brother and sister, two step-sisters and a step-brother. She says, “Amazingly, we all got along and we still enjoy being together. We made many cross-country trips with my dad and stepmother, all of us would pile into a station wagon, or later into a 1974 GMC motor home.” Growing up in the Texas Panhandle, she loved to be outdoors riding horses, fishing in the creek, or looking for arrowheads in her dad’s pasture.
Her step-dad was transferred to Houston and her family moved there when she was in the 5th grade. “I was fortunate to live on a great street with lots of children and I made many friendships that I still have today. My step-dad and my mom built a successful business which enabled us to travel and meet people from all over the world,” she says.
Her oldest step-sister and my step-brother have since passed away along with her parents and step parents, but the four remaining siblings are still very close. ” My favorite thing is being with my family, and my sister still has that 1974 GMC motor home,” says Campbell. She is also very close to her four nephews and two nieces as well as two great nephews and three great nieces.
Inspiration for Becoming A Special Ed Teacher
Having two sets of parents, Campbell grew up with all the love and support needed to help her accomplish all of her dreams. Her step-brother Mac, who had Down Syndrome, inspired her to become a Special Ed teacher. Mac was two years older and was not allowed to go to public school back in the '60s and '70s. Despite his challenges, she noticed his many unique qualities such as his witty sense of humor and compassion for people and dogs. "He loved people and prayed faithfully for his friends and family," recalls Campbell. Although he passed away in 1995 at age 39, he left an lifelong imprint on Campbell's heart.
Amy Campbell pictured with stepbrother Mac, who inspired her to pursue special education as a teaching career
Helping During Harvey
During Hurricane Harvey, her house sustained minimal flooding in one room. She called upon some friends to come help her pull up carpet and they obliged. After they were through at her house, one of the ladies helping said that she knew of another family that needed help in West Katy, so Campbell and her friends packed up, and helped muck out that house for the rest of that afternoon.
After two weeks of grueling work, they had help muck out 14 houses.
Campbell also signed up as a volunteer at her church, Kingsland Baptist Church on a team that cooked breakfast for families and volunteers. For the next month, Campbell would arrive at at Kingsland at 4 a.m. and cook and serve breakfast to relief workers and they would also fed the cooks who were preparing the meals that were delivered by the Red Cross. “It was a sad, and yet inspiring time. It felt so good to be doing something to help and I loved seeing how the Katy community came together to help those in need,” she says.
Charter Member of ARC of Katy
Amy Campbell is a charter member of The Arc of Katy, a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization serving adults and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities, (IDD) in the Katy and surrounding area. The Arc of Katy provides resources for parents and families of persons with IDD, and they provide monthly socials and bingo nights, as well as a day program for adults with IDD, and a summer program for teens and adults with IDD. She serves on the board of directors of The Arc of Katy and serves on the Programs Committee, the Communications Committee, and assists with several fundraising events.
She is also a Katy I.S.D. Keys Mentor for a student at Taylor High School and an active volunteer in her church where she serves various mission projects throughout Katy and the surrounding area.
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