Mother's Day

Carson High School’s ‘Mom’ helps students feel welcome

Carson High School librarian Ananda Campbell, far right, with her twins Augi, far left, and Betsy.

Carson High School librarian Ananda Campbell, far right, with her twins Augi, far left, and Betsy.
Photo by Jessica Garcia.

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As students, siblings Augi and Betsy Campbell grew up spending more time in a school library than most. So now that they’re at Carson High School, it feels very natural in the mornings or in between classes to drop in and scout for snacks or spend a few minutes hanging out with friends.

Thanks to their mother Ananda Campbell, Carson High School’s librarian, the space has become a sweet home away from home for all her “many kids” on campus on their best and worst days.

For Augi and Betsy, Ananda’s motherly instinct to offer a shoulder to them and her students makes her “really cool,” they said. She’s swift to answer questions about applying to college or career options and more perceptive to offer a hug or kind words if a student is feeling overwhelmed.

“It actually makes me feel glad you’re my actual mom,” Betsy said to her mom. “I brag about you. They’ll say, ‘I love Ms. Campbell and she’s there for me,’ and I’ll say, ‘She’s my actual mom.’ I just feel really glad there’s people who have you.”

“I’m in here every morning,” Augi said. “It’s my morning spot … sharing things with her, having snacks. It’s nice to be here in the morning. It’s very chill.”

Ananda Campbell is celebrated by her own kids and others to make the library one of the school’s most disarming areas for students and maintain a positive energy within its walls. They come in with the simple reassurance she’ll be there for any student looking for a book or a mentor.

“Part of being in the library, of course, is academic, but I feel like my goal is to have a place where students feel heard and seen and wanted and welcomed, and they can connect with people in a different way here in the library,” Ananda said. “I guess that’s like ‘momming.’ ”

The Campbells are a multi-generational Carson City family with connections to the Harrah family of Harrah’s Reno and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. Augi and Betsy will graduate with the Class of 2026’s Senators. Ananda, a proud graduate of the Class of 1989, once was taught by her father’s teachers. Many knew her father, Bill Campbell, Jr. of the Class of 1971. Her grandfather Bill Campbell, Sr. would move to Carson after meeting Ananda’s grandmother, and they would establish their family.

“(My grandparents) drove up in their rickety, old car, and the first business didn’t go over well,” Ananda said. “They came up a second time and started Harrah’s. Bill Harrah, Sr. had a place on the Santa Monica Pier and my grandmother worked there. That’s how they met. They moved up here in the 1940s and came up again, so my dad grew up first at Lake Tahoe, and they were working at Harrah’s at Lake Tahoe, and then moved here to Carson.”

Ananda said she loves the family connections and deep ties to Carson High. Her brother, Col. Jade Campbell, also attended the high school and studied in the auto shop program, having enjoyed working with his hands, she said. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps and now is stationed in North Carolina after he graduated.

To this day, Bill Campbell, Jr., who started at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic School and graduated from CHS in 1971, still performs music with the band he played with in high school several times a year. Ananda’s mother, an obstetrics and gynecology nurse when Carson Medical Group began, remembers many local connections from when Ananda began teaching, she said.

“I felt like I belonged here,” Ananda said. “I wanted (Augi and Betsy) to have that same experience I had where it’s generational. And we have friends, our grandparents are friends and I’m friends with their parents and they’re friends with the kids now. A lot of the kids they hang out with are people we’ve known forever, so it’s like a family.”

Today, Ananda is grateful her kids and students acknowledge how important it is to keep ties within the school. Torie Johnson, CHS junior and library assistant for the past three years, is one of Campbell’s many “kids” who trust her as the “mom of the school.”

“It just helps me escape,” she said about working in the library. “This is my time to escape, and if know I don’t want to do anything, that’s okay. I’m not pressured to do anything I don’t want to do. I have my friends. It’s a safe place to go if I need to.”

Johnson said Campbell creates a welcoming environment for any student to discuss academics or their mental or social health at any time. She offers patience and sage advice before they exit out her door so they’re ready to brave the world again.

“She’ll take them in the back room and calm them down,” Johnson said. “She’s that person, and I think that’s amazing.”

As to the legacy she’s proud of leaving as a librarian, Ananda applied her response as a Carson City resident, referring to her work through “The Story of Carson High” project. The community impact on former graduates seeking memories, access to previous articles and yearbooks has generated inquiries, most of whom typically are delving into personal histories, she said.

“We had over 100 years of yearbooks collecting dust in cabinets spread around in different offices and we were able to get all of the years in school newspapers digitized and so we have every yearbook and newspaper available online to everybody,” she said. “At one time, I would search through the yearbooks and scan pages, and now it’s pretty cool to say we have that available for you and show you the website.”

The project has sparked enough interest that many began donating school memorabilia, including a 1937 prom tickets, a 1953 letter sweater and a cornerstone from the original Carson High building. She hopes to create a space in the future to display items that are donated or collected.

Her personal pride and joy are her children Augi and Betsy who are still enjoying their high school experience and giving some thought about their own future. Betsy says she would like to become a radiologist while Augi has not yet decided on his career path.

“I want to be happy,” he said.

Ananda says she “lucked out” with her own kids and describes her role as an “amazing” opportunity to be a part of her community and Carson High.

“It’s not just what I do, it’s who I am,” she said. “I like being an educator and being a teacher. It’s who I am and who I’m meant to be. I feel I’m blessed I get to bring all this together.”


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