Spirit Weeks Make Online Learning Memorable

On the brink of retirement, you might think a 37-year teaching veteran would flinch at transitioning to virtual teaching — but not Dawn Campanello.

The coronavirus has challenged and changed each person’s way of life, but for Mrs. C (a name her students affectionally call her), this was a challenge she not only accepted but exceeded.

Campanello has worked hard to keep her seventh and eighth grade students at Kirkland Seventh-day Adventist School engaged by making online learning fun and enjoyable. She has done a spirit week every week since quarantine started, including hat day, crazy hair day, Bible trivia themes and more. Color day inspired her students to say, “Wait a minute, let me change,” as they ran to their rooms to get in costume for their virtual spirit week.

This has made the virtual learning experience so much more rewarding and fun for her students and their parents alike.

One of the most popular weeks was when kids were invited to recreate a famous work of art as part of the Getty Museum Challenge. The results were so fun, a picture even received acknowledgment from the Getty Museum after the photo was uploaded to Instagram.

Parent Renee Griggs says, “It would be easy for [Mrs. C] to just do the basics, but instead she has gone above and beyond.”

Something key to Campanello's class, whether virtual or in person, is structure. Janelle Bucher, a parent of two students and a “room mom,” says, “My kids have thrived on the structure they have received in her class and have loved having all their expectations set out.”

Campanello also believes in having a sense of humor with her students and believes her students can achieve anything they set their minds to. “I have high expectations for them,” she says, as she works towards her goal of preparing them for high school.

Campanello has a strong 10-year legacy at KSDA, including coaching the robotics team for nine years (three years of which they went to the national tournament). She also created a STEM Day during which eighth grade students showed lower grades that topics of science, technology, engineering and math can be fun with activities such as making ice cream in a bag, making and racing boats, and enjoying an imitation pen factory.

Campanello is looking forward to enjoying retirement with her husband, her two sons and twin grandchildren — and actively supporting the school through substitute teaching.

Ron Jacaban, KSDA principal says, “I love listening and seeing how excited she is when she talks about her students — I will miss that.”

Campanello says, “What I will miss most is the daily interaction with kids.” For Mrs. C, teaching was not just a job or a means to an end. It was a calling, one that she found from “listening to the voice of God.”

Featured in: July/August 2020