February 21, 2022

Meet our new CEO Kenneth Campbell

What’s your favorite memory from your time as a student?
I grew up in Biloxi, Mississippi, and I have tons of favorite memories from school. I was one of those kids who loved school just about every day. That being said, I’ve always been captivated by the way that authors brought words to life, so English and history were and are favorites. I was also particularly motivated by anything that involved problem-solving, like geometry. And, I’m probably dating myself, but diagramming complex sentences might have been my favorite activity. Not to sound like an old man, but kids would probably be better writers today if we brought that back to the curriculum.

Finally, whenever I talk about school, I have to mention my 4th grade teacher, Ms. Sondra Caillavet, who was brilliant and caring and who made every kid love school.

How did your time at IDEA prepare you for addressing education in BR more broadly?
Being immersed in the work of launching and operating IDEA schools in Baton Rouge provided an ideal environment for getting a first-hand view of the challenges that our schools face. I think it provided a level of practicality about how hard this work is and real world examples of the challenges that our children bring to school every day. I’ve had both my most rewarding and my most difficult days at IDEA, and I hope to be able to apply my lessons learned and experiences to the way we address education across the city.

What is Baton Rouge’s most pressing issue when it comes to education?
The easy and obvious answer is the need to provide broad and deep support to kids and adults impacted by the pandemic, which must continue to be a priority. But, another issue that I’m particularly focused on is the need for significantly more excellent teachers. I think we have some of the most talented and committed educators in our classrooms, but I think our programs for attracting, developing, and retaining teachers needs to be strengthened and expanded. Many schools also have experienced higher than normal rates of teacher absences and an unprecedented number of teachers leaving the classroom. So, we must prioritize finding ways to support teachers in the profession currently.

How can community partnerships elevate excellent school options for students?
Community partnerships are essential to efforts to expand when, where, how, and what students learn. Too often, we think about new learning opportunities for children only in terms of new and better schools. However, our world is changing so rapidly that we can’t afford to ignore all the places where learning takes place for our students. Community partners can help to provide continuity of services throughout the school day and year and unique and valuable learning opportunities for students, families, and educators both within and outside of school. The reality is that our community is rich with educational opportunities, and we need community partners to be deeply engaged in the work.

Why is NSBR important to you? Why is our organization
important to our city?

The purity of our mission is what sets NSBR apart from a lot of other organizations. A lot of folks may not know that I previously served on NSBR’s board of directors because I believe that one of the most important responsibilities that a community’s leaders share is to ensure the community’s children are well and properly educated. I’ve traveled the country pretty extensively, and there aren’t many places that are as committed and as focused as we are at NSBR. Our work over the past ten years has certainly had a positive impact on thousands of children in Baton Rouge and has set us up for even greater success in the future.

What are you most excited about as NSBR’s next leader?
That’s simple – being in position to have a greater impact on children in Baton Rouge and making sure our work is sustained and expanded.

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