It’s pretty clear why Katie Delcampo is Cape Henlopen School District’s district teacher of the year. She loves to teach – it’s the only thing she wants to do.
Delcampo was a star athlete at Cape Henlopen High School, and she played basketball in college.
“I went into college thinking I’d go into business and set up fitness centers and be a trainer,” said DelCampo.
In her last year at the University of North Carolina, she changed her mind and turned to teaching, planning to be a physical education teacher.
She went to Wilmington College for her master’s degree in education. She focused on math, which is a subject she enjoyed in school. DelCampo is a Rehoboth Beach resident who has been working in the district for six years. She did her teacher training at Sussex Consortium, where she took Tom Coveleski’s spot as gym teacher during the summers.
She liked North Carolina but she says she’s happiest at home in the Cape Region where her family still lives. “I love it here,” she said. DelCampo has taught eighth-grade math at Mariner Middle School for five years, after student teaching seventh-grade math.
She was named district teacher of the year last May. “You never think it will be you. It’s an awesome honor,” she said. A lifelong athlete, DelCampo has plenty of wins to her name, but this is the greatest honor, she said.
DelCampo has drawn on her experiences as a student to help her be a better teacher. In a college course, she had a professor who made sure he knew something about each student before class began and he would talk with each student about where they grew up or what sports they played. “He really tried to relate to us,” she said.
“It’s been a good process,” said DelCampo. “I try to teach math in a fun way. I include word problems they can relate to,” she said. So, at the start of each year, DelCampo surveys her students and asks them their interests. She tries to incorporate student interests into word problems. Knowing what her students like to do can help her regain their focus if they start to slip.
DelCampo is at ease in her classroom. Soft-spoken and thoughtful, she is totally focused on education and how to best reach her students.
She uses her rapport with students to help keep their focus on academics. “The eighth-graders are the top dogs. They don’t always understand the importance of eighth-grade,” she said. She tells her students to keep in mind their performance at the end of their middle school careers will affect where they start in high school.
She relates her own experiences as a high school and college athlete to her students, to give them a heads up on how hard they’ll have to work as student athletes if they want to continue to play sports for school. DelCampo played volleyball, basketball and softball at Cape, and as a freshman played boys’ soccer because there was no girls’ team. At the University of North Carolina, she played basketball.
District teachers of the year meet monthly with Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery to discuss issues in schools systems across the state. DelCampo said Mariner Middle School English teacher Janet Andrelczyk helped her assemble her portfolio for the state competition and her parents helped her film a five-minute video about motivating students. State education officials observed DelCampo in the classroom, videoed and photographed her teaching.
Being observed and taped put a little more pressure on teaching, DelCampo said, but she didn’t really mind. “I don’t want to do anything else but teach,” she said.