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College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan. - March 2012 > Sophomore and Disabled Student Advocate Inspired to Teach

Sophomore and Disabled Student Advocate Inspired to Teach

Caitlin Campbell, a student in the College of Education, finds the inspiration to teach, drawing from experiences with a disabled brother.

campbell_sml_cp.gifby Wildamie Ceus (February 2012)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Only a sophomore in the Childhood and Early Adolescent Education program, student Caitlin Campbell already has her sights set on becoming a future Teacher of the Year.

Hailing from Germantown, Md., Campbell always knew that she wanted to work with young children.

“I always wanted to be the teacher that a child remembers for the rest of their lives,” she said in a recent interview.

According to Campbell, a major influence behind her decision to pursue a career in education was her older brother Brett, who was born quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy.

“At first I thought I wanted to be more on the legal side of things and be an inclusion advocate for kids with disabilities, like my mom did for Brett,” she said. “But then I realized that I'd be better off being the teacher of an inclusive classroom and helping them have the enriched life Brett had.”

Growing up, Campbell routinely attended classes with her brother, and she recalls sticking up for him a lot.

In time, she realized she disagreed with many of the philosophies utilized by teachers of disabled students, especially their tendency to oversimplify. Campbell prefers disabled students be included in the regular classroom environment.

Although she is a passionate advocate for the improvement of education for people with disabilities, Campbell does not necessarily want to teach in typical special-needs classes. Life with Brett has helped her be able to see the strength in all of the students she works with.

“I find a piece of Brett in all of the children,” she says.

In the video (below) of Campbell's recent in-class presentation, she discusses how her brother inspired her to pursue her career goals.

Last summer Campbell had the opportunity to work with students at an inner-city elementary school in Philadelphia through the CI 295 early field experience program offered in Penn State’s College of Education. There, she said she learned how to interact with different types of students while being strict and warm at the same time.

“I absolutely loved CI 295,” Campbell said, “I think everyone should be involved in something like that.”

During the academic year Campbell likes to challenge herself with 400-level courses. She is also on the varsity cheerleading squad at Penn State and teaches children’s gymnastics during the summer.

This year, she plans on taking summer courses as an introduction to the 5-year masters program for early childhood education.

After graduation, Caitlin hopes to teach first or second grade, and possibly become a reading specialist.


Caitlin Campbell's In-Class Presentation on Students with Disabilities