Melanie Stuart-Campbell spent much of her career as a traveling teacher, working with students in New York City, Ecuador, the Republic of Congo, and several South American countries. Now, having returned home to Kansas as an instructional specialist and advocate in Greenbush’s Title I Part C Services program, she works with students who are no strangers to travel themselves.
“This is year 25 for me in education, and this is my favorite job I’ve ever had,” Stuart-Campbell said. “What makes what I’m doing so gratifying is that I feel very equipped with all these years of experience in various settings to best advocate for and instruct students.”
According to the United States Department of Education website, the goal of Title I Part C Services is to “ensure that all migrant students reach challenging academic standards and graduate with a high school diploma (or complete a GED) that prepares them for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment.”
To that end, Greenbush team members including Stuart-Campbell provide tutoring in schools and in homes, and work with teachers and administrators to identify the best ways to help students. They also advocate for students and families by helping them navigate unfamiliar systems and overcome cultural barriers.
“Every day there’s variety,” Stuart-Campbell said. “I go to schools and I get to educate teachers and principals about language acquisition—how it’s a process.”
Stuart-Campbell's enthusiasm for helping students succeed extends beyond work; she was recently elected to the Topeka USD 501 school board.
"I’m a passionate advocate for all students to have access to the best possible quality of education," Stuart-Campbell said.
Stuart-Campbell grew up in the Topeka area, attending Auburn-Washburn USD 437. She graduated from the University of Kansas, majoring in Spanish and French education.
While attending graduate school in New York City, she fell in love with teaching English as a second language.
“I loved it so much because the world was in my classroom,” Stuart-Campbell said. “When someone’s from another culture, another country, or speaks another language, it’s so interesting to me and I want to learn about them.”
Now Stuart-Campbell is sharing her love of language and culture through a new medium: a book titled “Learn Spanish with Pictures” published by California-based Rockridge Press.
“I start with just the natural progression of language acquisition,” Stuart-Campbell said. “The first thing you say to another person in another language, is ‘I don’t speak,’ or “Do you speak,’ or ‘What’s your name?’ and ‘Where are you from?’ As the lessons progress they increase in complexity.”
Stuart-Campbell said the publisher sought her out because they had seen her previous book, a children’s tale about a street dog named Alba that she adopted in Ecuador.
“I’ve really enjoyed doing this because I thought of myself and my own experience learning Spanish over the years, so I was sure to include content that I felt that I didn’t have enough of in my own Spanish education,” Stuart-Campbell said. “Lots of cultural things are included.”
Stuart-Campbell says the book is appropriate for learners starting around 7th grade. It is available now on amazon.com and will soon be available through more retailers.