Over his 40-year career as a teacher, Windell Campbell has touched the lives of countless students. But 25 years ago, he found his passion and has been using it as a way to reach local children ever since.
Campbell is a professional oral storyteller who travels all over the state visiting libraries for summer reading programs in addition to running after-school clubs in two elementary local schools. During the summer programs, he performs some of his favorite stories, usually from folk and fairy tales, and teaches the children how to present themselves, giving their own interpretations to the literature.
“The main goal of the summer program is to inspire children to pick up and check out books,” said Campbell. “There are many other wonderful side effects too though.”
Through the sessions children also learn the structure of stories and how to perform them using gestures and tone.
“They also master how to stand up and perform in front of a group of people, a skill that will benefit them into adulthood,” said Campbell. “When they are successful it gives them confidence, makes them feel accomplished and inspires them to learn more.”
A teacher of gifted studies at Plant City’s Cork Elementary, Campbell also holds Storytelling Clubs at two local schools where students regularly meet after school. Some of the clubs’ members have gone on to compete in annual local and state storytelling festivals.
“Some are really, really good,” he said. “It is powerful to watch.”
Campbell became interested in storytelling after seeing another performer during a school field trip.
“I was captivated and decided I needed to learn how to tell stories the same way,” said Campbell, whose favorite tales come from a storytelling book called Sody Sallyratus.
A Valrico resident for many years, during which time he taught at Alafia Elementary and Mulrennan Middle schools, Campbell often performs at the Bloomingdale Regional Library and plans to visit libraries all over Hillsborough County this summer.
“My wife, Pam Lewis, has been a great support in not only my storytelling career but also in forty years of teaching,” said Campbell. “Without her, I could not have managed combining my two careers in such a meaningful way.”
To learn more about Campbell, who also performs for birthday parties and church groups, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 684-3819. For a schedule of summer programs at local libraries, visit www.hcplc.org.