I enter a classroom to discover the usual array of posters on the walls and books and papers on the teacher’s desk–but this isn’t your average classroom. It’s run byMrs. Felicia Campbell, the guidance counselor on Knockpatrick’s campus. When we meet, she greets me with not only a handshake but the widest smile I’ve received that day. Before our interpreter joins us, I notice the copy of Shakespeare’sThe Tempestsitting amongst other novels. She tells me of her daughter, a theatre fanatic, which quickly leads to conversation about her son too. As she tells me about her family that expansive smile finds its way into the room again. Our interpreter enters, and Mrs. Campbell welcomes us to take a seat. And so her story telling begins.
In her earliest years of education, Campbell attended CCCD where her parents worked. By age twelve, she moved to the United States to receive an education in the mainstream school system while her parents taught on the island of St. Vincent. Despite leaving CCCD at a young age, she acknowledges, “CCCD helped me a lot. They are top notch.” It is for that reason she says–and an affirming call from God–that she returned to Jamaica after graduating from Liberty University. And it’s a good thing she did.Campbell’s presence in Jamaica has transformed students’ lives at Knockpatrick.On a daily basis she meets with kids to discuss anger management, leadership advice, sexual health, budgeting skills, and career plans. Students are especially eager to discuss the latter. Excited to know more about themselves and their place in life beyond school, students of all ages are engaging in dreams and plans for their futures.
Campbell’s influence on island stretches beyond CCCD.At one point my interpreter breaks into the conversation. “PeopleknowFelicia,” she emphasizes. How could they not? Felicia helped found deaf churches around the island and still presents at various retreats and leads women’s bible studies. At times you could even find her and her husband in the legal sector, assisting lobbyists. In 2008 they helped change laws that prohibited the deaf from holding a driver’s license. As a result, Campbell became the first deaf woman to receive a license in Jamaica. Her work goes to show that she cares about her students far beyond the start and end of a school day. Mrs. Felicia Campbell consistently works to create a better environment for the deaf beyond their graduation day. Her care means she works tirelessly amongst school, religious, and governmental systems.And as I discovered: this involvement means if you ask around in the community, Felicia Campbell isn’t just someone worth knowing, she’s one you won’t forget after meeting.