Finish Lines: Roberta Campbell

Roberta Campbell, age 80, still serves as a subsitute teacher at Mt Lebanon High School.

Roberta Campbell, grandmother of two grandsons and a granddaughter who attend Mt. Lebanon schools, is at a place in life where many people would prefer to retire and relax. Instead, she spends nearly every day substitute teaching at the high school, where, says School District Director of Communications Cissy Bowman, “She keeps up with the students and everyone loves her.” Roberta’s late husband, Sheldon, was the supervisor of Mt. Lebanon’s foreign language department for many years. 

Your mother was an educator in Mt. Lebanon.  How did that influence you? My mother was the first principal of Lincoln School here from 1925-1932, till she married. All I heard growing up in Aliquippa, where my father’s funeral home was, was “how they did things in Mt. Lebanon.”

Tell us about your early teaching years and what you did when you took a break. After graduating from Chatham College, I taught kindergarten and third grade in Mt. Lebanon. We had two boys, and during their growing up I remained home. I volunteered at Allegheny General Hospital and was president of the auxiliary there, was a member of the Women’s Fortnightly Review, president of the South Hills College Club, an elder in the Presbyterian Church and served on the boards of Village Academy and Presbyterian Senior Care. When Erich went off to Bethany College, I started subbing.

How are things different today than when you first started teaching? That’s a tough one to answer, since I taught in elementary and sub in the high school (a good thing about a liberal arts education).  Back then, parents asked “What did you do today?” Today they check to see, “How many grade points did you get today?”

What do you enjoy about substitute teaching, and why do you think you have been successful at it? Every day is a new experience and a new challenge. I think the kids know I love what I do. I never miss a football game or a lacrosse game, and the kids know I’m there cheering for them.

What is great about kids today?  What do you wish was different? Everything. I really love young people—their interests are broad and always changing. I wish there were fewer pitfalls for younger people. It’s not the safe world it used to be. Makes good choices more important.

Where do you get your energy? I am blessed with good genes, good health and an upbeat spirit.