ECU's Campbell named one of NC's best professors
(Apr. 12, 1996)
An East Carolina University professor being recognized today as among the best in the 16-campus University of North Carolina, has spent the past 19 years resolving to never teach the same class the same way twice.
Patricia Terrell Campbell, an education professor, was selected by the UNC Board of Governors for an Excellence in Teaching Award. She and 15 other winners received bronze medallions and $7,500 in cash prizes during a ceremony in Chapel Hill on Friday.
A member of the faculty in the ECU School of Education’s Department of Foundations, Research and Reading, Campbell says her success in the classroom is because she looks for challenges, makes adjustments, displays enthusiasm and assesses each of her class sessions.
Along the way she has been known to dress up in plastic garbage bags just to get a point across to her students. She often encourages her students to browse yard sales for discarded books and to pilfer trash dumps for empty cereal and Kleenex boxes.
“Commercial breaks,” she calls her demonstrations, but in reality, they are her way of explaining the techniques that work best in helping children learn to read.
Since joining the ECU faculty in 1977, Campbell has served in a variety of teaching and service functions. She is a former chair of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education and is active in teaching and consulting projects with the public schools in the region. She also has been a key player in developing cooperative teacher-education initiatives between ECU and universities in England and Japan.
She says she views herself as a learner, a facilitator and an organizer who doesn’t believe in magical “quick fix” solutions to the problems of public education. Instead, she said, it’s better to focus on the best teaching practices because “good teaching is good teaching.”
She encourages her students to share in her enthusiasm for reading. She also offers daily tips and advice such as visiting yard sales to find inexpensive children’s books and turning empty cereal and Kleenex boxes into children’s “word boxes.”
A demonstration that students remember best is when Campbell dresses up in a trash bag and asks for names of different kinds of garbage. She writes the words on the board and then shows how the words can be used to teach vocabulary, phonics, spelling and comprehension.
“These are the secrets that I have learned throughout the years,” she said. “They are things that won’t be on tests and that’s why I call them commercials, but they are things that I think will help them in their teaching careers.”