Anne DellaCamera, a Palmetto Bay resident and a teacher who worked in the public school system for 44 years before retiring in June 2009, remains dedicated to the cause of education and helping students.
DellaCamera continues to serve as an education consultant to numerous private schools in Florida, developing programs for critical and creative thinking strategies through professional development workshops and mentoring teachers.
In late March she made an eight-day trip to Jordan as part of the People to People program. Her choice of that country was influenced by an earlier encounter.
“While teaching at Southwood Middle School I took my students to New York to work with ambassadors at the United Nations about every other year,” DellaCamera said. “One of the years was right after Desert Storm, and one of the missions out of 22 missions that agreed to see us was Jordan. I felt that I needed to be there, knowing that it had been a war-torn area.
“So we went to visit and luckily we had the ambassador himself speak with us. The children had written a book about their concerns for the future of the world, which we did each time we went to the U.N. After we introduced the group and presented the book to the ambassador and he looked through it, his comment was, ‘My goodness, you really have done your homework. When I get through reading this, my children are going to read it because they need to have more of a world view.’”
DellaCamera said that they talked for an hour and a half and that the ambassador was so honest, kind and gentle that he really made an impression on her.
“So when I had the opportunity to go to Jordan with People to People as an education delegate I was really interested in going,” DellaCamera said. “I figured if he was representative of what the people of his country are like, I would love to experience his culture. We only had eight days in Jordan where we visited three teacher complexes.”
DellaCamera said that the schools are in such poverty-stricken areas that they really need a lot of help just for the facility as well as for material goods.
“We brought with us educational materials, pencils and pens and notebooks and books for them to read, because they’re teaching English as a second language,” DellaCamera said. “Of all of the delegates on the trip only three of us were teachers. The others were nurses, one was a court reporter, and one was a pediatrician, people from all walks of life. There were 11 of us plus the leader.”
Essentially their role was an outreach to peacekeeping, but the education end of it was something in which she was very interested.
“When you meet with some of the teachers and you see what they’re doing, you could see the gratitude in their faces when you gave them the materials to work with,” DellaCamera said.
The second area they went to was a school for children who had lost their families and were orphans. There were women there who had lost their families as well and had become the moms for the children, taking care of them. She thought the SOS Village was a phenomenal foster program. The third school was for handicapped and deaf children.
Each of the schools they visited was presented a check for $1,000 from People to People, raised from donations made to the non-profit organization.
“It doesn’t look like a whole lot, but the idea that someone else cares enough to see their need and try to support what’s going on is good,” DellaCamera said. “And it’s good publicity for the schools because even the people in the area see that what they’re doing has worth to it.”
Overall, she said she found the trip to be a fantastic experience.
“Going to the biblical sites was important to me, as well as working with the teachers in the schools and seeing the children, who were so enthusiastic about practicing their English, having their picture taken with you, and doing their little performance,” DellaCamera said. “They knew someone recognized their efforts and that was very important to them.”