Brian Campbell has been teaching for only five years, but this year he earned top honors as Columbia County's Teacher of the Year.
''Brian is just a special individual to start with; he definitely has a calling for teaching," said Gloria Hamilton, Greenbrier High School principal. ''To put it in the words of one student, what makes him so special is he cares. He cares about all the students, not just the gifted and not just those he teaches."
Campbell, 29, is in his fifth year of teaching college-prep and advanced-placement biology.
''Biology is a hard subject. He takes the subject and makes it so real and practical to them," Hamilton said.
When he was in college, Campbell had different plans. He was pre-med all the way to his senior year, when he changed his mind and decided to go into teaching.
You could say teaching is in his blood. His father, Larry Campbell, is a teacher and head football coach at Lincoln County High School.
''He discouraged me from doing it," Campbell said. ''He wanted me to be the doctor, the lawyer, just like all parents would. He now realizes his mistake because I enjoy it so much."
When he entered the classroom after college, he wondered if he had made the right decision.
''My first year and second year, I thought it was a mistake. ... I thought it was not for me," Campbell said. ''It was the hardest job, and I felt like I was not prepared. I was ready to get out."
Campbell, who has a sister who is a first-year teacher at North Columbia Elementary School, said he would like to use his platform as teacher of the year to encourage preparation and support for new teachers.
''I just know how it was my first year; it was horrible," he says. ''That first-year teacher needs all the support they can get."
In 1996, he earned a bachelor of science degree in secondary science education from the University of Georgia. A year later, he earned his master's degree in secondary science education, with an emphasis in biology, and his gifted certification. He is now working on his education specialist's degree, which would allow him to move into administration.
Campbell serves as the school's literary coordinator, junior class sponsor, prom coordinator and academic booster-club coordinator.
''There's nothing in the school that Brian does not get involved in - athletics, fine arts, academics," Hamilton said.
Georgia's Teacher of the Year Program annually spotlights the teaching profession and recognizes outstanding public school teachers at the local and state levels. The program is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education. The first Georgia Teacher of the Year was selected in 1971.
This is the second Columbia County Teacher of the Year that Greenbrier has produced. Hamilton said she can easily see Campbell advancing to the state and national levels.
''He's on a fast track to success, no matter what he does," Hamilton said. ''He is full of initiative. He is energy unleashed."
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