Friday, August 28, 2009


Obituary by Andres Chavez, San Fernando Valley Sun Staff Reporter




Wednesday, 26 August 2009 --There are many kinds of greatness. There are those historical figures who "Bestride the world like a colossus," as Shakespeare said. But great too, are those teachers and educators who help children succeed where there was failure before.

The teacher who cares about her students. The individual who strives to improve her community. The loving mother who raises her children to be strong adults. The wife who enriches her husband and she, in turn, is enriched by him.With this description, one of the great ones passed when former O'Melveny Elementary School principal Dr. Maria "Terry" Campa, 72, died on August 22, 2009 from complications of myelodyfplastic syndrome, a bone marrow disease. The diagnosis and her death was sudden and unexpected.

People who knew Terry Campa described her as a passionate woman who gave the needs of others top priority. In the 30 years plus years she worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District, her passion was children and bilingual education.

"My mom spoke Spanish at home. That was my mom's first language and so she could relate to the issues and difficulties that children might experience when they go to school speaking only Spanish," said her son David Campa.

She was a trail blazer and led the way among the first wave of bilingual school teachers and later as a bilingual program coordinator, then bilingual advisor to the whole school district, Terry Campa strived to improve the bilingual programs for LAUSD.

She embraced the vision of bilingual education to teach the children about history, science and all the other important subjects in their own language while they learned English so they didn't lose time and fall behind. They could keep up their studies at the same time they were learning English.

She carried that vision and position into the classroom at area schools and later in administration, first as an assistant principal at various schools in the district, and finally as principal of O'Melveny Elementary School in the city of San Fernando.

Husband Javier (Frank) Campa described Terry as a life long learner. She had two master's degrees in Bilingual Education and Linguistics, from CSUN. She later earned her Doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco in 1994.

But as much as she pursued her own education, she wanted the benefit of education for others and she loved people.

"She was like a magnet for everybody. I would not make friends very easily and she was the person who made the social life for me. I just followed it and helped her. She would remember (people's) names, what they did, their families. It was amazing to me," said Javier.

Another passion for Terry Campa was music and dancing. In 1974 she and her then 14- year old daughter joined the Mission College Ballet Folklorico.

"She and I both danced with that program under the direction of Virginia Diediker [at Las Palmas Park]. We danced together for many years," said her daughter, Diana Campa Limon.

"My mother took took piano lessons and voice lessons. She even sang in a choir."

Limon described her mother as passionate about life.

"She taught me to live with enthusiasm, with passion. To live life to the fullest. That's the role model she was for me," Limon said.

A funeral mass will be held on Saturday, August 29, 2009, at 10:00 a.m., at the St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 10738 Hayvenhurst Avenue, Granada Hills, CA.

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