Erica Burkart, MMS Teacher of the Year
Erica Burkhart, MMS Teacher of the Year
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Recognized by the Board of Education
The Board of Education recognized eighth grade Social Studies teacher Erica Burkhart as MMS Teacher of the Year at its December 10 meeting at Manteo Middle School. She earned her degree from Elizabeth City State University, graduating suma cum laude. Since 2008, she has taught at Manteo Middle School. She lives with her husband and two young children in Manns Harbor. From left, Board of Education member Dr. Walter Holton, Erica Burkhart, and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sue F. Burgess.

Manteo Middle School Teacher of the Year, eighth grade social studies teacher Erica Burkhart, received her degree from Elizabeth City State University, graduating suma cum laude. In the summer of 2008, she participated in a undergraduate research program at Purdue. Since 2008, she has taught at Manteo Middle School. She lives with her husband and two young children in Manns Harbor.

It wasn’t until she had a semester in the trenches that she discovered a passion for teaching. “History had always been a bland subject to me and realizing I had the power to change that for others was enlightening.”

A typical day in her social studies class includes “students up and moving around, working in groups, sharing and bouncing ideas off one another, and using technology resources,” notes Lindsay Pennell, EC teaching assistant. “Many of her lessons involve students using Haiku to access lessons, which often include videos of speeches and interactive lessons through history.”

“Erica is an exceptional teacher with strong leadership abilities,” says Gail Luciano, EC teacher at MMS. “She works to create a learning environment at Manteo Middle School that is based on mutual respect. Erica’s top educational priority is what is taught and how it is taught. She sets high expectations for her students and supports them in their quest to achieve outstanding results. Erica is knowledgeable, extremely competent, highly professional and dedicated.”

By combining “relevance with relationship real leaning can occur,” Burkhart says.

“Students need to trust their teachers. There has to be a relationship to know they can think and ask questions without fear. Without the creation of this atmosphere, students will not engage in learning, no matter how cool the latest technology may be. For example, I have discovered that shy students will type away on a discussion blog in Haiku, when I can’t get a peep out of them in class. When I asked one student about why he would be so vocal online but not at his desk, he said he knew he had good things to say, but despite the respect I gave him, he was unsure of how his classmates would react to his accent. If he was not provided with the comfortable environment (of Haiku) he would have been deprived of the chance to share his knowledge.

“By establishing relationships, I can gain the confidence of my students, and, in turn, guide them to be greater in both academics and in character,” Burkhart asserts. “I also try to convey that tolerance is necessary for life. For example, if working in groups, students might need to work at a slower pace to allow their classmates to keep up. This is a form of tolerance. Another example would be rejecting poor behavior while still accepting the student in the classroom. This mentality makes 8th graders better people, students, and classmates.”