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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “A reward for caring, inspiration”

    A reward for caring, inspiration

    When one walks into the office of Charlene Kampfe on the fourth floor of the Education building, one immediately notices the crayon drawings on the filing cabinet and the vast array of “”Thank You”” and Christmas cards cluttering her desk.

    Then there’s the wall covered in plaques and awards from all over the country – a collection about to get a new neighbor.

    Kampfe, an associate professor in special education and rehabilitation, was recently named to receive the National Council on Rehabilitation Education’s (NCRE) Educator of the Year award, given to one educator each year.

    Kampfe will get the award tomorrow in San Antonio.

    “”It really means a lot to me,”” she said. “”It’s kind of a culmination of my work with students at the local level. I’m so lucky to get to do this in my life; it’s just unreal to work with these wonderful students.””

    Kampfe was nominated by colleague S. Mae Smith and chosen by a committee of the NCRE.

    In the nomination packet, Smith described Kampfe as a “”creative and challenging teacher”” who “”typically includes experimental components in her courses.””

    Smith went on to illustrate an instance where Kampfe took her class to a sweat lodge for a lesson on American Indian healing.

    In addition to Smith’s nomination, eight previous students of Kampfe’s submitted letters to help secure her recognition.

    “”There are educators that come into our lives that we will never forget,”” wrote doctoral student candidate Cynthia Thomae. “”Dr. Kampfe is one of the educators in the field of rehabilitation that has truly touched my life. … I am truly grateful for having had her as my professor.””

    Other letters described her as “”dedicated,”” “”inspiring,”” “”encouraging”” and “”an outstanding educator.””

    “”The letters meant more to me than anything,”” Kampfe said. “”Getting the award wasn’t so great as reading those letters.””

    Kampfe has been working in the rehabilitation field since 1966. She has been acknowledged for her work in teaching, mentoring and research and has already received a few service awards.

    She has a scholarship in her honor through the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association, which was announced last year.

    She first worked with people suffering from severe mental illness, the deaf and older people with disabilities. Now she educates graduate students who wish to become rehabilitation counselors.

    “”I love working directly with the students and writing with them one on one,”” Kampfe said. “”Mentoring is probably my favorite.””

    One of Kampfe’s approaches to teaching is to reinforce the concept that everyone thinks differently.

    Kampfe described an instance when she stood in front of the class, threw her hat up into the air and hollered. Then she asked her students what they saw, and every student had a different reaction.

    “”You can’t assume that everybody perceives life in the same way,”” Kampfe said. “”And you can’t assume anyone is responding to their disability in same way.””

    Kampfe is currently working on a textbook for the Institute on Rehabilitation Issues with a group of selected committee members.

    The textbook is being written to train people who work with the aging workforce and is the first of its kind, she said.

    While Kampfe has no intention of retiring anytime soon, she does wish she could spend time doing other things, like practicing her creative dancing and spending more time with family. Kampfe and her husband will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this August.

    “”I just think I’m the luckiest person in the world,”” she said. “”Isn’t that great to have a lifetime of a job which you love?””

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