Meet Tammy Camel, Carl Perkins Community Service Award winner

Meet Tammy Camel, winner of ACTE’s Carl Perkins Community Service Award. Camel’s interview appears as part of a spotlight series on our 2021 national award winners and finalists. The Carl Perkins Community Service Award recognizes individuals who have used CTE to make a significant impact on their community and demonstrated leadership in programs and activities that promote student involvement in community service.

What is your job title and what do you do?

I am the family and consumer sciences (FCS) teacher and FCCLA adviser at Rockcastle County High School (RCHS) in Mount Vernon, Kentucky. I teach classes in the consumer and family services and early childhood education pathways.

What was your education experience like in general? What did you study?

I graduated from Berea College in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in child and family studies. I worked for a short period of time as a homeless case manager at Ashlee’s House Homeless Shelter before serving as a victims’ court advocate/outreach educator at the Family Life Abuse Shelter, both in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky. As an outreach educator I often found myself in the FCS classroom. It was there that I found my passion for working with young adults.

If you want to make a difference in the world you have to focus on the young people. I completed a master of arts in teaching at Eastern Kentucky University in the summer of 2010 and began teaching at Rockcastle County High School the following year.

Please discuss the role of community service in your life.

I have always felt like service to others is important. Growing up my family often struggled and I found myself on the receiving end of service from others. I have never forgotten those who helped me. From that grew a desire to do my part. In addition to my work with FCS students, I teach Sunday school and I am a youth leader at my church. I have also been a foster parent for four years. 

Please describe your most meaningful community service project.

We have completed many service projects as a group but what stands out as most meaningful to me is our work with the foster care community. FCCLA is the only student organization with family as its central focus. And so, any time we are able to directly impact families, it is special. We provide services to this community from many different angles. We have raised more than $3,000 to support foster children and families, and we once created 100 personal care bags for children entering the foster care system. RCHS FCCLA has hosted numerous Foster Parents’ Night Out events, offering respite to parents at no charge. Additionally, we have hosted a dinner and program in recognition of those that work to ensure the safety of children and families in our community. It is a blessing to assist this community and promote awareness. 

How has COVID-19 affected CTE program activities in your school?

COVID-19 created many barriers and limited our programs. All of our educational conferences and meetings have been canceled and students have not been able to attend competitions, leadership camp and meetings. I continue to be inspired by my colleagues and our leaders who came together to support our students. Collaboratively, we have prepared and shared resources through social media. We created virtual competitions, and we hosted virtual conferences to ensure our students had equitable opportunities. 

In what innovative ways have you engaged students to remain connected with their communities while social distancing?

We have continued offering FCCLA to students enrolled in the program. For 2020–21, membership is available to students in my program free of charge. I have also encouraged students to take an active role in strengthening their own families. To observe our annual Family and Consumer Sciences Day on Dec. 3, students were asked to enjoy a sit-down meal with their families.

Learn more about ACTE’s 2021 national award winners.