Cameron named Charros Scottsdale Community College Educator of the Year

Scottsdale Community College is at 9000 E. Chaparral Road (File photo)

When it comes to success in education, Scottsdale Community College reading teacher Sara Cameron said a letter grade is not the ultimate determinant.

Over her 18 years of teaching, Ms. Cameron, who the Scottsdale Charros named the SCC Educator of the Year, has seen students withdraw, fail or barely pass her classes. Despite these perceived speed bumps, she has still seen success in each of those students.

“Success in education, especially higher education, is when a student learns more about humanity and their own roles within the world,” Ms. Cameron said. “Grades reflect mastery of the course competencies and ability to persevere throughout a course’s expectations and demands.”

Sara Cameron (Submitted photo)

She said there are many factors that go into receiving a grade such as external obligations that require the student to withdraw, even if they have learned well up to the point of withdrawal.

“A transcript may not always show success,” she said. “If students have learned how to learn, how to think critically and how to better navigate their role in society in ways that transformed them personally and professionally, then success has been achieved.”

Originally from Joliet, Illinois, Ms. Cameron earned her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from the University of Iowa. She then taught fifth grade in Naperville, Illinois for seven years while working toward her Master of Science degree in literacy education from Northern Illinois University.

After earning her Reading Specialist certification, she and her husband moved to Phoenix.

Her life in education, however, almost wasn’t a reality.

After she graduated from high school, she had an interest in accounting and education. She originally got into the college of business at the University of Illinois but missed her older sister, who was attending Iowa.

This prompted her switch of schools and subjects since the school had a reputation for education.

“In most everything I do, there is a mixture of practicality and heart with a focus on my family and future,” she said.

Reading has been a skill for Ms. Cameron. She said growing up, she was in honors and gifted courses because of her advanced ability to read. Upon starting her teacher education programs, she learned reading is a “complex process” and those who struggle also struggle with equity and opportunity barriers.

“Knowing that I could have an impact on reducing equity barriers lit a spark and the changing ways in which we consume large quantities of information in the digital age has enhanced my purpose and passion to protect consumers,” she said.

“I work in the field of literacy because I believe in reducing equity and opportunity barriers that arise from low-literacy skills.”

Ms. Cameron says helping bridge this gap is essential in “a world designed to take advantage of our most disadvantaged members.” Through her teaching, she hopes to help students learn to be independent, logical thinkers and readers.

The result of self-confidence, she says, is outwardly visible.

“I never tell my students what to think; I teach them skills and strategies on how to think: how to navigate arguments, investigate sources, and evaluate the quality and quantity of evidence,” Ms. Cameron said.

“When students who generally dislike reading share what they are doing in class with their friends and family, I have impacted that student in transformational ways and directly benefited our community.”

News Services Reporter Josh Martinez can be contacted at or at 623-445-2738

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