MORGANTOWN — Eddie Campbell Jr.’s resume in education includes postings in China, Alaska and Tucker County.
On Monday in Morgantown, he made a stop at University High School, where he engaged in the public meet-and-greet that was part of his interview process for Monongalia County Schools superintendent.
Campbell, who currently heads the Tucker County school district, is a candidate to replace Frank Devono, who is retiring next month after 13 years on the job.
In the UHS library, Campbell talked to an audience of mostly educators and others from the community search committee about his philosophy of education — and what it’s like overseeing a rural district that isn’t subsidized by an excess levy.
“I sign every purchase order,” he said.
Tucker County is the third-smallest district in the state, he said, with three schools, including one high school, and 1,000 students.
Campbell said students in general aren’t being served by a current classroom climate where the person in the front of the room has to focus on preparation for the standardized test — as opposed to actually teaching.
“I know tests are important,” he said, “but I want kids to learn, and I want you to get out in the classrooms and do what you’re good at.”
What he wanted to do was be a social studies teacher and a baseball coach, he said.
Campbell, a Wheeling native, took a degree in history in 1988 and was a teacher and principal in Virginia, where he earned graduate degrees and a doctorate in education from George Mason University and the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education.
That doctorate bought an airplane ticket to Shanghai, China, where he was a consultant and director of Livingston American School. The school had a partnership with the University of Virginia.
Before that, he said, he only traveled as far as Arizona, where he watched WVU and Notre Dame go at it for college football’s national championship in 1988.
He also spent a year in Alaska, where he served as a principal of a high school in a small village in the Arctic Circle.
The world traveler said he wants classrooms to feel like a safe home for students, who spend hours of the day in them.
Which, he allowed, is getting more and more difficult in an America where gun violence in schools, such as the most recent shootings in Texas last week, are now the norm.
“I hate to say it, but we’re starting to get numb to it,” he said. “And if we get numb to it, we’re gonna start forgetting about it.”
Campbell said he makes students in Tucker County remember he’s there for them by attending every Tucker County High School football game, home and away, where he stands on the sidelines.
“We have to encourage the heart in our kids,” he said.
The candidate will also be interviewed by privately Monongalia County Board of Education members this afternoon prior to the board’s 7 p.m. meeting.
Ashley Martucci, the citizens’ search committee chair who moderated the meet-and-greet, said no other sessions are planned for the immediate future.
“Not at this time,” she said.