Mother and daughter learn lesson: Teaching runs in family

Pair to be listed in Who's Who Among America's Teachers

May 20, 2002|By Linda Linley | Linda Linley,SUN STAFF

Having a mother who is an educator brought Jennifer Scandora to teaching in a roundabout way.

After earning an undergraduate degree in technical theater, Scandora tried a couple of different jobs, but her thoughts always returned to the classroom. Finally, she enrolled at Goucher College in Towson, obtained a master's degree, and got a teaching job.

Scandora says her mother never once said "`I told you so.' She knew I needed to be a teacher because it was a natural option," said Scandora, 31, of Reisterstown. "But there were such big shoes to fill that I believed I couldn't live up to her. I've found my own way now, and life would not be complete without teaching."

Today, Scandora and her mother, Jean Campbell, an educator for 40 years, teach at private schools three blocks from one another in North Baltimore, and both will be listed in the next edition of Who's Who Among America's Teachers.

It will be the first time Scandora, a seventh-grade teacher at Roland Park Country School, has received that honor. It will be the fifth time that Campbell, who teaches American history, math, spelling and vocabulary to fifth-graders at Boys' Latin, has been listed. High school seniors who have been recognized for academic excellence may nominate to Who's Who teachers who have made a difference in their lives. Roland Park senior Megan Welsh nominated Scandora. "I always remember her dedication and her constantly telling me not to give up," Megan said. Campbell was nominated by Boys' Latin senior Ameet Rawtani.

Who's Who Among America's Teachers, first published in 1990 by Educational Communications Inc., pays tribute to exceptional teachers. It is updated every two years. Scandora and Campbell will be in the seventh edition, to be released in October.

That the love of teaching has been passed from Campbell to her daughter seems only natural. Campbell, 60, said she "always knew she wanted to be a teacher" and has been working in the classroom since she was 20 years old.

A major difference between mother and daughter is their choice of students: Scandora, who has been at Roland Park for five years, prefers teaching girls, while Campbell, who has been at Boys' Latin for 17 years, prefers teaching boys.

A graduate of the all-girls Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Scandora said she's a proponent of single-sex education. Under such an arrangement, she said, girls don't worry about speaking out in class and are not worried about impressing boys.

"I knew I wanted to teach middle school - either seventh or eighth grade, because the students are still moldable at that point," Scandora said. Roland Park is a girls school with 712 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

All of Campbell's nominations for Who's Who have come from her years at Boys' Latin, where she is also the assistant head of the lower school. Boys' Latin enrolls 620 boys in kindergarten through 12th grade.

"Responsibility is something I believe in strongly and my students know it," Campbell said. "I'm strict, but I'm also very funny. The students know where I draw the line."

Campbell has established an award in honor of her son, Brian, at Boys' Latin. She presents it each year to an eighth-grader who demonstrates integrity, good character and academic excellence. Brian, a 1992 graduate of Boys' Latin, was killed in a car accident in 1996.

She said former students frequently return to campus to visit and that she is usually inundated with invitations to parties, weddings, college graduations and bar mitzvahs from her students. This year, 19 of the 58 graduating seniors were taught by Campbell.

This is the first year Scandora has seen former students graduate. "I can't wait to see the graduation, knowing I taught some of the students," she said.

Campbell lives in an apartment in Scandora's house, which allows her to see her 1-year-old grandson every day. She and her daughter often carpool to work and talk about issues related to teaching.

"We have an understanding," Campbell said. "We are a sounding board for each other."

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