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April 22, 2009 > MSJH Teacher Inducted into Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame

MSJH Teacher Inducted into Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame

By Miriam G. Mazliach
Photos By Karla Varela

Linda Campana, a long-time teacher of Physical Education at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont, will be inducted, along with 10 other women, into the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame on April 25. The awards luncheon will take place at 12:30 p.m. at Hs Lordships Restaurant in Berkeley. Campana said she was "shocked and thrilled" by her nomination for the Women's Hall of Fame. "I had absolutely no clue my services were worthy of such an award. The students inspire me daily, to do my job."

Established in 1993, the Hall of Fame recognizes outstanding women, in 11 different categories, for significant contributions to their field. Throughout the year, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Alameda County Commission on the Status of Women and the Alameda County Health Care Foundation, disseminate information to the community about the nominating process on the Alameda County official website, acgov.org. These nominations are then gathered from the public and various community members, representing different sectors, serve as judges to make the final selections. Funds received in honor of these women are donated to various non-profit organizations in Alameda County.

For 35 years, local inductee, Linda Campana, has taught Physical Education at Mission San Jose High School in Fremont. She has also coached championship tennis teams and shared her expertise and love of dance with thousands of students during her long teaching career. Accordingly, Campana is committed to encouraging a healthy lifestyle not only for her students but models this within her own life and family. She will often come up to students at lunchtime, to see what they're eating and suggest healthier food options. "Besides self confidence, teaching them a healthy lifestyle is the most important point." When asked about her own role model, Campana states, "Growing up, my mom was my role model. If I needed her help, she was always there. I gained a lot of confidence because of her and this is what I want to instill in my students."

Campana grew up in the desert area of Lancaster in Southern California and became involved early with dance and ice skating. She continued skating all the years into high school and was a competitive skater, enjoying the sport's combination of grace and athleticism. At one point, Campana even thought of joining an ice show such as the Ice Capades or Ice Follies.

While attending Arizona State University, Campana started studying Physical Therapy, but when that program was switched to another college, she decided to instead pursue a career in Education. "I did student teaching with all different kids in Phoenix at the Junior High level. I realized that I enjoyed talking to people and that teaching was the most fun, and logical career for me to pursue."

Two weeks prior to graduating from Arizona State University with a teaching credential, a relative told Campana of an available position at Thornton Junior High School in Fremont. She was hired and allowed to graduate early from the university to begin teaching. After two years there as a P.E. teacher and dance coach, Campana realized that she wanted to teach at the high school level. While taking dance classes to learn new techniques, she happened to meet a dance teacher from Mission San Jose High School who asked her to apply for an opening there in Fall 1975. Impressively, thirty-five years later, Campana has coached soccer, dance, softball, gymnastics, field hockey, basketball, boys' and girls' tennis and dance.

Campana says, "Colleges used to require three years of P.E. for admission, but with the push to even more Math and Science classes, particularly by parents in our area, now only two years are required. That hurt the dance program at high school, as fewer students were able to take an elective." In the late 1980's, in order for the dance program to survive, Campana wrote a new curriculum that placed dance into the Fine Arts department. A few years ago, the dance program was moved back into the P.E. area.

Asked how she was able to be so involved and successful after all these years, Campana explains, " I learned to adapt to the times. I have seen a huge change in the demographics of Fremont. In the early days, I would grade how well someone did a sport. Now that kids are so stressed out because of the high level of academic pressure, I focus more on teaching them a lifelong skill to reduce that stress level. Every year that I am here at the school, it reinforces that I am here for all the kids, not just the super athletic student, but for the everyday kid who needs me to give him/her that confidence to succeed. I want to continue to grow and be an even better teacher."

If you would like to hear more inspiring stories from Linda Campana and the other 10 inductees, tickets to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame Luncheon may be purchased by contacting the County Administrator's Office at 510-272-3884.

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