NEW SCHOOL - Grade 2 teacher Jan Ludwig was excited to start the first day of school at Don Campbell Elementary. The school was named after her father. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

NEW SCHOOL - Grade 2 teacher Jan Ludwig was excited to start the first day of school at Don Campbell Elementary. The school was named after her father. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

First day of school celebrated at new Don Campbell Elementary

Red Deer students head back to class

The first day of school is always a big day for families and it was a particularly important day for Red Deer Public Schools when Don Campbell Elementary School opened its doors for the first time.

Don Campbell Elementary Grade 2 teacher – and Don Campbell’s daughter – Jan Ludwig was overwhelmed with the excitement on this special day.

“It means more than I ever could really adequately express,” she said. “It is an honour and very humbling. My dad would be over the moon and so excited about this, but also humbled. We brought my mom through the other day and she was just delighted.”

Ludwig, who has been with Red Deer Public for over 24 years, explained the naming of the new elementary school was something she never expected.

“Never in a million years,” she said. “I love the fact that I can carry dad’s practice with me in my teaching practice. I feel him everywhere I go – in my classroom and in my life. Now I get to carry his namesake, with a school named after him.”

The new school, according to Ludwig, is a place that her father would have been very excited for as an educator.

“It is very innovative and people were so excited about it,” she said. “It has a lot of new innovative learning spaces and has a real focus on community – school community, neighbourhood community and classroom community. We are very happy.”

Director of Community Relations Bruce Buruma explained that community is key to the design of Don Campbell Elementary.

“We are really proud of Don Campbell Elementary, not only for what it represents as a building but also the culture and the legacy of Don Campbell. It is really focused on neighbourhood, communities and families,” he said. “This space is really exciting and we can’t wait for the community to come in.

“One of the features of it is we have community space with the City of Red Deer. This is not going to be a 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. facility – we want to have it open and welcome in our community. This school belongs to the community and we will make that happen.”

Buruma noted innovation is key in designing new educational spaces.

“The space here is innovative; it is exciting; it is colourful; we have three outdoor classroom spaces; we have an amazing music room; a wide open concept and lots of collaboration among teachers. This is a very special place for kids and learning,” he said.

The opening of Don Campbell Elementary is just one of the signs of a strong Red Deer Public School District, according to Buruma.

“Lots of new things are happening this year,” he said. “We are excited about the opening of the new Don Campbell Elementary school; we have moved our Spanish bilingual program over to Grandview, which will allow it to grow and we had our kick off on Monday and our staff is energized and excited.

“We are really focused on our priorities of literacy and numeracy. Equity is a huge drive within our district and we have a real focus on student success and completion.”

Student success starts on the first day of school and Ludwig was thrilled to see young faces – old and new.

“It is wonderful,” she said. “We have met many of kids yesterday already and the excitement was palatable. Everyone is back and ready to learn – including Mrs. Ludwig.”

She added the opening of Don Campbell Elementary is very special to her, however, her love of teaching makes every year important.

“Every school is extra special to me; every kid is extra special to me and I like ending every year saying, ‘That was my best class ever.’ Any time where there is learning, sharing and growth – that is the best year ever,” she said.