Our Staff

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Kristie Campbell | Founder and Director

Kristie Campbell has been a part of the Effingham community since she returned in 2004 to create firefly grill with her husband, Niall. A self taught educator, Kristie began to define her vision for an innovative school when she was pregnant with her daughter Camden in 2011. Buckeye Friends School is based on a deep belief that all kids have limitless potential and a great opportunity to thrive when they are given the freedom to explore, create and pursue their own passions. Kristie wants Buckeye to be the most interesting place on earth for her students, and a space where the only reason they look at the clock is because they are afraid there won’t be enough time left in the day.

Starting their 4th year, the team is successfully executing this lofty goal. Buckeye students want to be at school more than anywhere else, they think summer is too long and that we have too many breaks. Though Buckeye has very little homework, students are constantly staying late to work on their projects, to read together, to work on their novels, to play Dungeons and Dragons and various sports and to choreograph dances for their troop.

This year BFS was supposed to have its first graduating senior. In an unequivocal example of how well the innovative BFS curriculum works, this student did so well on her college entrance exams that she graduated one year early and is now a successful full time student in college.

Buckeye is doing for education, what firefly did for food in Effingham County. Achieving the seemingly impossible to elevate what this amazing community has to offer. Not every school is a great fit for every student. Buckeye offers an alternative for families who believe that the assumptions of the industrial-age-models of schooling are no longer sufficient for children to thrive in the 21st century.

Firefly was created to attract talent to Effingham businesses, it is the space where the majority of recruiting is achieved. Kristie hopes that BFS will also attract and retain talent for our community, countering the rural brain drain happening in small midwest towns.

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Carrie Huff | Co-Founder and Co-Learner

Carrie Huff has been an educator for over 40 years. She began teaching middle school Language Arts in St. Louis in 1970 and then moved to Maine, where she taught Language Arts, Theatre, French, and Biology for 12 years. She and her family moved to North Carolina in 1992, where she joined the staff of the Carolina Friends School (CFS), a small Quaker school in the woods. During her 25 years at CFS, she was both a teacher and an administrator. After her retirement, Carrie and her husband Greg moved to Effingham in 2017, and she is the very proud mother of 3 grown children and 5 amazing grandchildren. Carrie is excited to be a part of the new Buckeye team!

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Betty Jackson | Co-Learner

Betty Jackson left her Job as an Activities Director in a Retirement home in North Carolina to join the Buckeye team as a Co-Learner. As someone who struggled through the traditional school system, Betty saw value in the hands on learning experience that Buckeye provides to its seeds.

“The traditional school system teaches us to follow the book and tells us there is only one way with one right answer and if you get it wrong, you fail. When I got out of high school I was practically waiting for someone to tell me what to do. I would catch myself freezing when faced with a new problem or situation. Afraid to act or ask questions. At Buckeye innovative and creative thought is encouraged and praised. If one way doesn’t work out, there is always another way! These are the kind of courageous thinkers the future of our world needs. We need more buckeyes!.”

After spending time with the Buckeye seeds, Betty felt confident enough to follow up with her schooling and is pursuing a masters degree in psychology. Her dream is to open a day care center that connects the young with the elderly as well as make some changes in the way we currently deal with aging, death and dying in our society. In her free time, Betty likes to be outdoors or doing something crafty. She also holds local Death Cafes and grief support groups at the Hazel Jayne Village center a few times a month. “I took this position at Buckeye to help encourage kids on their path, but I had no idea how much they would encourage me on mine.”

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Kody Czerwonka | Co-Learner

Kody Czerwonka comes from a family of teachers and so the desire and passion to continue learning is deeply rooted within Kody. Kody holds multiple positions within a couple of non-profit organizations with a focus on community. He is an original founding board member of the Tuscola GSA Booster Club whose mission is to “support safety, liberty and justice for all persons in Tuscola and the surrounding communities.” Kody is also the Vice Grand of the Tuscola Odd Fellows, an international fraternity that promotes philanthropy. Kody also has many other different passions including film, kayaking, hiking, reading, playing sports, and learning something new every day. Kody hopes to share these passions and learn more about the seeds’ passions in this school year. He is excited for this opportunity to co-learn, and not only help his seeds grow, but also grow himself.

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Johnnie Adams | Co-Learner

Hello! I'm Johnnie Adams, I am committed to fostering a nurturing and engaging learning environment for students. I believe in creating a foundation of curiosity, creativity, and kindness that empowers young minds to explore, discover, and grow. Through interactive activities, play-based learning, and personalized attention, I aim to cultivate a love for learning that lasts a lifetime. I'm thrilled to be a part of Buckeye School of Friends and contribute to the development and success of our youngest learners. Let's embark on this exciting educational journey together!

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Shawnna Czerwonka | Co-Learner

Shawnna has many family members in education, including a granddaughter attending college to become an elementary school teacher. She grew up in Neoga, Illinois and attended Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University. Shawnna worked 22 years at TSI Graphics making text books for preschool through medical school. Following that she worked for 17 years in the Mattoon School district as a classroom paraprofessional in Special Education. She retired in 2020. She also cooked at Camp New Hope for eight years.

While working for Mattoon Schools she held an office in the UAW union as well as in downstate CAP and PAC. She marched in the 2017 Women's March in Washington, D.C. Civil rights are an important issue to her.

Shawnna has been married to her husband, Kevin for 33 years. She has 3 children, Tori, Tyler, and Kody (also a Co-Learner at Buckeye). She loves her four biological grandchildren and the 5 she considers her grandchildren that also call her Grandma.

She was a substitute co-learner this past year at Buckeye as well as in the summer program. Shawnna says she is looking forward to a wonderful first year with the Buckeye team.