It's been a little more than two decades since Cameron Littlejohn '15 was a kindergartner at Ed Smith school in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD). Today he's back in elementary school, teaching 1st grade at Meachem Elementary which is also in the SCSD. "Being able to be part of kids development and learn from them is a blessing. I am thankful to be part of the solution in making an impact on their lives."
The path back to elementary school includes two years at Onondaga Community College where he began his higher education journey after graduating from Bishop Ludden High School. He was an outstanding scholastic student and athlete, earning all-league honors in soccer and being named tournament most valuable player of the 2012 state champion basketball team. “I was only 17 years old when I graduated high school. I knew I had a lot of maturing to do. I knew if I lived on campus at OCC where the classes were small and the faculty was approachable, I would be part of a culture I was familiar with and close to my support system at home.”
Littlejohn continued his basketball career at OCC while spending his first year in the classroom taking Liberal Arts classes. He eventually realized he liked to write, enjoyed classroom discussion, and decided to become a Communications major. In May of 2015 he completed his final classes and walked the stage at commencement in the SRC Arena. “Graduation was an amazing day. It marked a huge achievement in receiving my associate degree. My mother was on stage to hand me my degree which made the moment even more meaningful.” His mother, Melanie Littlejohn, is a member of OCC’s Board of Trustees.
His next stop was SUNY Cortland where Littlejohn wrote for the school newspaper, interned with a sports blog out of New York City, and worked at the student radio station. After he earned his bachelor’s degree, Littlejohn returned to Bishop Ludden where he was an assistant coach for both the junior varsity and varsity boys basketball teams while also working at the Elmcrest Children’s Center. Each of his roles impacted him and helped him realize the satisfaction he felt working with young people.
Four years ago Littlejohn became a substitute teacher in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD). When a teacher called in sick, Littlejohn got a call to come to work. “It was a tremendous learning experience. I was exposed to different age groups, learning situations, and it cemented my interest in becoming a teacher.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, he taught kindergarten remotely. Despite the challenges it presented, his passion never wavered. His commitment caught the attention of SCSD Administrator Jeannie Aversa, and Jason Armstrong who is an SCSD Principal and Littlejohn’s former kindergarten teacher. Thanks to their encouragement, Littlejohn enrolled in an accelerated teaching program with SUNY Oswego and became a full-time 1st grade teacher in the fall of 2022.
His commitment to students has been evident outside class as well where he helped create the Building Men Program which gives young students male role models. The program includes students from several schools including Meachem, Franklin, Huntington, Salem Hyde, and STEAM at Dr. King. Each week when students meet they are given a new theme to focus on such as self-respect, character building, perception, or maturity. “The program is critical. We’re able to talk through situations in a polite and constructive way. It gives students the tools they need to make good choices about how to handle situations that are causing frustration or anger."
His experiences working with young students has fueled his desire to achieve even more, and Littlejohn has been accepted into Syracuse University’s Masters in Educational Leadership program which will put him on track to become an administrator one day. “My journey is just beginning. Thanks to the experience I had at OCC, I have many more questions to ask before I am fully satisfied with the impact I can have on students and the community.”