Caroline Campbell didn't want to be a teacher. Growing up, both of her parents and several relatives were teachers, and she wanted to be different.
But during her junior year of high school, her experience volunteering in a special needs classroom took hold of her heart, and her career plans changed.
"I just fell in love with the kids," she said. "After that, I really had a love for children with special needs, and so that's what I went to college to study."
Now a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania majoring in early childhood education and special education with concentration in urban education, Caroline is student-teaching five days a week at an inner-city elementary school in Pittsburgh.
With a passion for inner-city schools, Caroline said her Christian faith has been instrumental in helping her to keep a positive outlook and encouraging students that they can succeed, no matter where they are coming from.
"I've seen the brokenness in this world through my students and it allows me to really care for them," she said. "I see a lot of negativity and things that are really, really heartbreaking, but knowing that being there for the students every day gives them a chance to see the positive opportunities and to see a different type of love the world can't always offer is important."
While her faith has been instrumental, her experience with Christians Investing in Education (CIE) has helped her discover that educating children isn't a responsibility only teachers should bear. When she learned of CIE two years ago, she said that it influenced her perspective on the community's role in education.
"I realized how much of an important role we [educators] play in the community," she said. "But in order to pursue justice together, we have to work together with every organization in the place we're teaching and take more of holistic community approach to it."
Charity Haubrich, director of CIE, also emphasized the necessity of a comprehensive community approach to improving schools.
“Every person and institution in our communities can contribute to the flourishing of our children by matching their strengths to the needs of our schools and by ensuring that public policies promote a diversity of educational supports,” she said.
Caroline has seen firsthand how necessary it is for other institutions in the community to be involved with their local school. Church volunteer groups and other initiatives like AmeriCorps have been important in her school, she said.