Free State High School teacher honored with Dedication to Education Award for ‘never giving up on students’

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Article updated at 12:37 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 23:

Erin McDaneld-Campbell, a Free State High School special education teacher, was selected to receive the 2021 Dedication to Education Award and the $5,000 check that goes with it. 

McDaneld-Campbell is the fifteenth winner of the award, which is presented annually to a teacher or paraeducator who “goes the extra mile to help kids who need it most,” according to a news release from the Lawrence Schools Foundation. 

“The award honors someone who supports ‘learning for all, whatever it takes’ by ensuring that challenged and/or disadvantaged students learn,” according to the release. 

McDaneld-Campbell is currently in her twelfth year as a special education teacher with FSHS, but her history with the school goes back even further. She was part of the first graduating class of Free State High School, according to her FSHS bio, and returned to her high school after graduation to work as a paraeducator there for seven years.

“This was definitely a huge unexpected surprise. I’d like to thank the individuals who nominated me and kept it a secret,” McDaneld-Campbell said. “I also couldn’t do my job without my amazing teammates and co-workers or without their support and belief in me.”

A fellow educator wrote that McDaneld-Campbell earned the award through her perseverance, and by “never giving up on students and families who need something more,” according to the release.

“She works tirelessly, coming in each day and starting fresh, not letting students or staff get caught up in past behaviors. She understands the needs of the families she works with, building trust and acceptance and persevering with these families through both the good times and the challenges,” the educator said in the news release. 

A peer wrote that “Erin is passionate about her job, the students and families she works with. She has embraced working with students who have inconsistent behaviors, uneven growth and many battles to fight. She embraces the successes each of her students has and works to build on those successes.”

Lawrence Schools Foundation/Contributed Photo Erin McDaneld-Campbell, Free State High School special education teacher, gets a big hug from her son when she’s named the recipient of the 2021 Dedication to Education Award from the Lawrence Schools Foundation.

Dedication to Education Award recipients:

2007 – Jim Immel (Early Childhood Center)
2008 – Mary Ann Henry (South Junior High School)
2009 – Mary Chamberlin (Pinckney Elementary School)
2010 – Charlotte Lauts (Lawrence High School)
2011 – Lori Sinclair (Woodlawn Elementary School)
2012 – Ron Swall (Lawrence Free State High School)
2013 – Morgan Randle (Southwest Middle School)
2014 – Heather Lee (Lawrence High School)
2015 – Cara McNorton (Kennedy Elementary School)
2016 – Kim Fuller (South Middle School)
2017 – Leah Henry (Juvenile Detention Center)
2018 – Mike Harris (Sunflower Elementary School)
2019 – Jessica Rohrberg (District Wide Physical Therapist)
2020 – Baileigh Faler (Broken Arrow Elementary)
2021 – Erin McDaneld-Campbell (Free State High School)

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Emma Bascom (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from December 2021 through May 2022. Read more of her work for the Times here.

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