‘Excellence in Every Classroom’ is the motto at Wheatley Education Campus and last week, our team sat down with Ms. Camille Seymour, a 4th and 5th grade Special Ed teacher to learn how she’s continuing to inspire excellence in her students awhile overcoming all the e-learning challenges Covid-19 brought her way.

Our team recently sat down with Ms. Camille Seymour, who is headed in to her second year as a special ed teacher at Wheatley Education Campus in Washington D.C. After learning about Camille’s story and her need for laptops, the Newwave Foundation provided Camille with a grant for 15 computers for her class.

NWF: Camille, thank you for your time to chat with the Newwave Foundation! Can you tell us a little more about your story and how you became a teacher at Washington D.C.?

Camille: I was on course to be an occupational therapist and I knew I wanted to work with children with special needs. My first job out of school was working at a Charter school in California (where I’m from) where I worked 1:1 with a student and became very close with her. The relationship you build with the students is important and they become a part of your family. I became certified through Teach through America (I taught in 3 years in Oklahoma) and I loved it. I decided I wanted to further my education, so I went to American University and I landed at Wheatley and absolutely loved my principal and her vision for the school. I’ve been teaching here for 1 year and going into second!

NWF: What an incredible story! What has your experience been like working in the DCPS?

Camille: DCPS is also a very big school district: We have between 45,000 – 50,000 students across a wide economic spectrum. Some students on one part of the city have a completely different learning experience than another. At my school, it was very difficult. We didn’t have enough computers for students who needed them – 70% of our students did not even have access to a hotspot so at first, it was very difficult to implement distance learning.

NWF: What are some pros and cons you see with distance learning?

Camille: One con: I’m not able to see my students in person. That’s the reason I went into teaching and I loved seeing my students every day. I miss not being able to have classroom parties or celebrate my students’ academic growth in person. A pro: I think teachers are being very intentional now. We really have a chance to shape education for the future and I really think we have a chance.

NWF: What are some changes you plan to implement in your classroom in the future?

Camille: This summer, I’m going to spend my time learning. I’ll be creating a website for my class. (blog) with weekly updates, shout outs, etc. and I will still continue with the YouTube videos in the fall!

NWF: Thank you for sharing with us, Camille! Is there anything you’d like to share with our NWF community and any other teachers who might be reading this spotlight?

Camille: This entire experience is a learning curve. This is all so new to teachers and parents. My biggest piece of advice: extend yourself grace. We’re going to figure it out. It might not be perfect, but we will figure it out and keep students first.