Teaching with passion

Pelham High School English teacher Rebecca Burnett was recently named the school’s Teacher of the Year.

“I really want to teach freshmen. I love freshmen,” said Rebecca Burnett when I first met her in 2005. Perhaps because freshmen are excited about high school, Burnett feels most comfortable expressing her passion for teaching with her freshmen English classes.

Recently chosen as Pelham High School’s Teacher of the Year for 2010-2011, Burnett said, “I am honored and humbled to represent our great school. One thing I absolutely love about teaching at PHS is that I am surrounded by people who care about kids. When the day is done, that’s what really matters.”

Burnett’s selection as teacher of the year generated excitement at PHS. The most repeated comments from students concern Burnett’s passion for teaching.

“She puts a lot of emotion and passion into everything she does,” said junior T.J. Hackett. “Her class helped me create my study habits that I’ve used throughout my high school career.”

“Mrs. Burnett’s enthusiasm for her students was evident in every lesson,” said sophomore Mareth Saville. “She made each student feel important.”

Burnett’s passion for literature engages her students. As department chair, I have watched her tirelessly read and choose compelling books for her classes.

“Mrs. Burnett’s class allowed me to break out of my secluded shell,” said senior Hannah Scheub. “The papers I wrote in her class allowed me to express myself.”

“The way she taught ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is what I will remember most,” freshman Ally Nichols said. “She made it possible for us to appreciate the essence of the novel by covering the story’s history and setting the scene.”

Teaching in the classroom next to Burnett, I have a front-row seat to witness her impact on students and her daily passion for sharing literature. I benefit from Burnett’s teaching when her students, spurred by her passion for reading and writing, come into my writing classes.

One such student is senior Jazzie Cooper. Cooper, who was in Mrs. Burnett’s freshman English class, has also taken creative writing, competitive writing and literary magazine.

“I have known Mrs. Burnett since I was a little girl,” Cooper said. “Everyone should know that she is an amazing teacher who pushes her students to show off their abilities. She has always had a passion for teaching. I am very proud of her.”

“We know that Rebecca Burnett represents the spirit of PHS,” said PHS Principal Bob Lavett.

Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.