Jessica (Jones) Burdick ’13, ’14, is the teacher of the year at Meadowland Elementary School in Sterling, Virginia.
She earned a master’s degree in education at Shenandoah, with a fitting focus on elementary education. “I had several exemplary professors that both inspired and prepared me for my career in education,” Burdick said. “The lessons taught during much of my coursework were highly applicable to the actual classroom and I recall much of the advice, lesson structure, and wisdom passed to me by some of my professors to this day (now about 10 years later).”
Burdick, who has taught fourth grade and will move to fifth grade in the coming year, stood out as a student, said one of her former instructors, Director for Transformative Teaching and Learning and Professor of Curriculum & Instruction Karrin Lukacs, Ph.D. “She had such an infectious positive, ‘can-do’ attitude. When she was in my Curriculum and Instruction class, she taught a practice lesson on caving. She made it so engaging and so meaningful that I not only remember what she taught us (enough to know that I never want to go caving – too scary), but I share her lesson as an example of what students should be striving for when they teach a practice lesson. I also remember her fondly because she was a student who actually used my cell number (which I give to all of my students). She always had such interesting questions, and she also never failed to ask me about how my family was doing – a truly kind and caring professional. So, I am not at all surprised that she was named Teacher of the Year. It’s very well-deserved!”
Burdick loves that each day feels new in the classroom. “Our students, our staff members and the family at my school start with a fresh perspective every day of the week, while forming bonds with students that are lifelong.” And, as might be expected from a teacher who once taught a practice lesson on caving, she truly enjoys teaching science. “I love allowing students to explore the world around us with hands-on activities and I’m looking forward to doing more of that next year in fifth grade.”
She also believes in the power of connection, in which teachers build strong bonds with students and families. Connection is also essential to her teaching philosophy, which is, “All teachers play for the same team; collaboration and effective communication with fellow educators, in addition to developing appropriately challenging, differentiated curriculum in a well-managed classroom environment, encourages the best outcome for all students.”