Elementary teacher brings ‘thoughtful’ lessons into classroom

Teacher of the Month
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CHICAGO -- This month's Teacher of the Month is thoughtful, kind, caring and, to her students’ delight, funny. All traits that don’t go unnoticed.

“The Robert Frost poem [‘The Road Not Taken’] is a personal favorite of mine. We talk about Mr. Frost, what he meant in American literature,” Maggie Burke, Teacher of the Month, said.

“We go stanzas at a time, but we have to do actions with them. And we all like doing the movements, and she does it with us,” Madeline Lynch, the student who nominated Mrs. Burke, said.

“We don’t memorize until we talk about its meaning, about making decisions and taking a healthy risk and what is a healthy risk versus other risks,” Burke said.

That’s just one of the thoughtful lessons Mrs. Burke teaches in her fourth-grade reading and writing classroom at Ebinger Elementary on the city’s northwest side.

“I’m a mom, and I feel like this is my second set of children. As an educator, as a mom, as a parent, as a human you want people to be thoughtful, and I hope I get that across in here,” Burke said.

Mrs. Burke is building deep thinkers, but it’s her method that’s made a mark on Madeline.

“She just makes everybody laugh. She makes us all want to go to school,” Madeline said.

“The classroom belongs to the students. Their work is everywhere. The work isn’t just basic work -- every piece on the wall shows higher thinking. Those students are challenged every day,” Jane Lundin, Saint Xavier University, said.

To honor Mrs. Burke, Saint Xavier University presented her with a $1,000 check.

“I was beyond overwhelmed. I’m very humbled,” Mrs. Burke, said.

“I wanted Mrs. Burke to get this award because she’s been teaching for more than 30 years, and I know she deserved it, and she’s probably my favorite teacher ever in the universe of the world,” Madeline said.


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