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Mrs. Burnett

Lisa Cochran, Co-editor-in-chief

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It takes a certain zeal and flare for one to be able to teach the subject of Health sufficiently, especially to developing high school students. Kim Burnett,  who matches these criteria, is currently consummating a 34 year teaching career in the field. Approaching her retirement, Burnett awaits the opportunities that come with no longer teaching with a certain melancholy, yet anticipation for what faces her in the future.

Burnett was initially inspired to teach when she had an inspiring high school teacher who taught what she claimed were “real-life, helpful, applicable skills.” That experience allowed her to gain a certain appreciation for the subject of Health, as she felt it pertained to reality. As a teenager, Burnett survived difficult experiences and says she had not been given sufficient information or resources to cope with her difficulties. More specifically, the subject of health has motivated Burnett to maintain her own health through exercise and diet.

In her 34 years of stating her wisdom before a class, she has shared semesters with approximately 253 students a year (totaling to 8,616 students in her entire career). This leads to interesting experiences and increased possibilities of seeing students in public, something Burnett enjoys immensely.

Burnett’s teaching style has flourished incredibly through her numerous years of teaching. In her first year, Burnett intended to fill the minds of students with information through vocabulary terms and readings. This changed slightly to a goal of destroying misconceptions in the world of health. Burnett now claims that her main role as a teacher has developed into being one who motivates and leaves an impact on her students. “My role changed but so did our society.” Burnett said, commenting on issues and developments of the 21st century and how they affected her teaching methods.

As Burnett reminisces over her years at Ames High, various factors remain in her memory. With great admiration, she spoke of her lifelong friends and supportive colleagues in the science department. She recalls fun class activities such as showing her students the amount of fat in fast food via playdough, stress-reducing coloring, mindfulness practice along with the “please pass the chicken!” activity.

Burnett’s teaching has affected students immensely. She claims that former students frequently tell her how much the subjects taught in health affect their lives. “They eat better, exercise more, feel better about themselves, seek healthy relationships, practice safer sex, and take better care of themselves.” Burnett commented. Burnett’s impact has not only reached high school students but also four student teachers who Burnett says, “Became passionate health teachers.”

While Burnett enjoys teaching immensely, being a health teacher has been anything but trivial. She was faced with difficult situations such as potential administration cuts, being censored on sensitive topics, and community members protesting her teaching of HIV/AIDS. Burnett faced these difficulties with determination and perseverance and continued to teach the way she thought most beneficial for students.

In regards to the future, Burnett plans to “enjoy life without a bell interruption every 43 minutes!” She hopes to bike, swim, scuba dive, travel, climb, play, dance, cook, garden, spend time with family, volunteer and resist Trump’s agenda by striving for just voter laws and equal rights for women. Burnett claims that she plans to occassionally sub in the future.

While these are pivotal times for Burnett, she is excited for a fresh outlook. She compares retiring to a forest fire, saying “sometimes you need to grow new trees.” And we should hope that the new trees are able to flourish with as much enthusiasm and tenacity as teachers like Burnett.

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