By Emilie Gillanders
IVC National Board Member and Ignatian Volunteer in Northern Virginia
Anne Marie Campbell is beginning her thirteenth year with IVC and has been at Our Lady of Sorrows/St. Ignatius School right from the start. Eight years ago the two schools merged to serve a primarily African American community in West Philadelphia.
Anne Marie read about IVC in her church bulletin and initially recommended it to her husband who had recently retired. He joined and began volunteering at the school tutoring math. One year later, Anne Marie retired and after joining IVC took her husband’s place, a logical placement as she had many years of experience doing Title 1 tutoring.
Her work at the school is two-pronged. She is a challenge math teacher, meaning she takes 6 or 7 of the stronger students once a week and works on more complicated math concepts. She also works one on one with 4th and 5th grade students, helping them become more confident about basic math skills. On any given day, she may work with as many as 20-30 students.
Her personal goal is to not only teach her students math skills but to convey to each of them that they are valued by her and that she believes in them. She encourages critical thinking in each of them and makes it clear that they should not be afraid to speak up if they do not understand a particular concept.
She remembers particularly a 5th grade girl who would barely make eye contact with her and almost never spoke in class. Anne Marie was able to work with her for 3 years and by the time she was in 8th grade, she was always challenging and frequently explaining math solutions to her peers. Her entire demeanor had changed. Her continuing successes are so very satisfying to Anne Marie.
Anne Marie shared that at a recent church bazaar, three 14 year old boys (all former students) came up to her and hugged her and regaled her with high school experiences. This speaks convincingly of her caring and skills as a teacher–a 14 year old who is willing to hug a teacher in front of two other 14 year olds–that is commendable.
Anne Marie had been a volunteer for most of her life but considers her time with IVC unique. She highly regards the spiritual component to IVC and looks forward to the three one day retreats that are held in her region.