APS NewsCheck

Oakridge Second Grade Educator Jennifer Burgin Named Teacher of the Year

Oakridge second grade teacher Jennifer Burgin assumed that when the Superintendent, Executive Leadership Team and her husband Benjamin, who works in Design and Construction, walked into the library during a staff meeting that they were there to talk about capacity issues. Imagine her surprise when she found out that she had been named the 2016 Arlington Public Schools Teacher of the Year.

“I was completely bamboozled when the Superintendent asked me to join him in front of the staff and announced that I was the Arlington teacher of the year. It was a slow and fast moment; my heart was racing,” said Burgin, a National Board Certified teacher.

The fact that she is the 2016 Teacher of the Year has not completely sunk in yet. “I was walking to school earlier this week and a mother of a preschooler at a nearby school walked out of her van to get her child and she looked at me and said ‘Congratulations!’ It blew my mind that someone from outside Oakridge would recognize me. I felt humbled to represent my school and Arlington,” said Burgin.

Dr. Lynne Wright, Oakridge Principal, described Burgin as a model teacher that the entire school community is proud to recognize. “Her love of education and learning permeate her being, and Ms. Burgin defines what it means to be a lifelong learner,” said Wright. “Her thoughtful and deliberate planning and vision inspire students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn.”

Burgin is admired by colleagues, parents and students alike. Former colleague Bailey Davis Calloway writes that “Jennifer has the ability to connect with all children in a way that makes them feel safe, loved, and understood. She becomes a cherished person in their lives.” Oakridge parent Karen Wang added that “the secret to her success is her natural ability to identify and appreciate the unique talents of each student.” Former student Isabella Stark summed it all up, writing, “Being taught by someone who genuinely cares for you, and nurtures you throughout your academic hardships, is the best thing you could ever ask for. She wasn’t just a teacher for me, she was a friend.”

Burgin takes pride in a number of accomplishments in the classroom, such as helping a child close their reading gap or making sure a second grader is ready to take on third grade math next year. But her biggest accomplishment and challenge professionally has been earning her National Board Certification. She received a lot of support from her principal and the Professional Development Office. “My good friend and then colleague,Elizabeth Kuleski (now at Discovery) and I walked through Boards together. We spent many late nights editing our essays, pouring over our student samples, and carefully choosing which video entries we would use. Our Boards mentor Kerri Hirsch, guided us week by week until the process was complete,” said Burgin. “I could have never finished that journey without the help of these women, and I feel proud to say that I am a National Board Certified Teacher.”

Burgin will serve as Arlington’s nominee for the 2016 Virginia Teacher of the Year Award, and is one of 19 metropolitan area teachers who have been recognized as a finalist for The Washington Post 2016 Teacher Award.

On Wed, May 18, the School Board, staff and APS community will recognize Burgin and the 33 other APS teachers who have been named Teacher of the Year for their individual schools. The celebration will be held at Washington-Lee High School, and will also recognize this year’s APS Principal of the Year and the Support Employees of the Year. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m.

This year’s APS Teacher of the Year school-based honorees include:

Abingdon Elementary School – Sonjia Scott Davis
Arlington Career Center – Ruth Bilodeau
Arlington Mill High School – Patricia Conroy
Arlington Science Focus Elementary School – Stephanie Lin
Arlington Traditional Elementary School – Tiffani Ker
Ashlawn Elementary School – Kathryn M. White
Barcroft Elementary School – Kristin Shymoniak
Barrett Elementary School – Heather Weir
Campbell Elementary School – Pamela Clark
Carlin Springs Elementary School – Meghan Neary
Claremont Elementary School – Carole Ebert
Drew Elementary School – Adriana Alcorn
Glebe Elementary School – Jenna Pertl
Gunston Middle School – Jennifer Kelly
H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program – Mignon Flournoy Kery
Hoffman-Boston Elementary School – Vivian Pelletier
Jamestown Elementary School – Amy Seif Blaine
Jefferson Middle School – Heidi Neunder
Kenmore Middle School – Michele Lombard
Key Elementary School – Anna Valle
Long Branch Elementary School – Gregory D’Addario
McKinley Elementary School – Dena Hermanek
Nottingham Elementary School – Hannah Mendelson
Patrick Henry Elementary School – Susan Lewis
Randolph Elementary School – David Siu
Stratford Program – Amy Engel
Swanson Middle School – Eric Berman
Taylor Elementary School – Allison Owens
Tuckahoe Elementary School – Mimi Kramer-Roberts
Wakefield High School – Michelle Harris
Washington-Lee High School – Steven Brown
Williamsburg Middle School – Patricia Carlson
Yorktown High School – Brian Bersh