Leigh Burks takes on assistant principal challenge

By Brandi Miller / For the FCT

Some people are just born educators. They love what they do, and it shows every day in their work and their love for children. These are the people who strive to make life better for every student, and every school they are a part of becomes better from their presence.

Anyone who has ever had a child in Leigh Burks’ classroom or worked with her will confirm she is one of these born educators.

Burks is taking a new avenue in education beginning this year, however, as she begins her role as the new assistant principal for elementary at Red Bay High School. She has been a classroom teacher for 24 years, so shifting gears from the classroom to administration is a major transition for her.

“I think the most challenging thing so far has been not actually being in the classroom after 24 years,” said Burks. “I absolutely loved teaching, but I am looking forward to working in a different role. I still am going to interact with the children as much as possible because elementary is what I love.”

Burks graduated in 1994 from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In 1996 she earned her early childhood degree from Troy State University.

Burks also went on to earn her National Board Certification in 2001 in early childhood education and completed the rigorous renewal process for National Board Certification in 2010.

In 2015 she earned an instructional leadership certificate from the University of North Alabama.

“We are lucky to have an elementary board-certified teacher as an elementary administrator,” said RBHS principal Lance Mitchell.

This is Burks’ 25th year in education. She worked for two years in LaGrange, Ga., at Troup County Schools, seven years at Pierce Street Elementary in Tupelo, Miss.; and 15 years at Vina High School before coming to Red Bay High School. She has taught first, third and fourth grades during her time in the classroom.

Because of her vast experience as a classroom teacher, she is able to offer a unique perspective as an administrator.

“Mrs. Burks is such a positive asset to our elementary school,” said RBHS first-grade teacher Dawn Shotts. “She has an elementary background and understands how children best learn at this age. She greets each day with positivity and a willingness to help in any way possible.”

Burks said one of her main goals for this year to is to get more technology in the classroom.

“While teaching, I loved using technology in my classroom,” said Burks. “I hope to provide more Chromebooks for our students and provide the teachers with the support they need.”

Communication is also important to Burks. She said she understand that communication between administration, parents and teachers is instrumental to creating the best possible learning environment for the students.

“I know parents are so proud of Red Bay, and they have such a right to be,” said Burks. “This is a wonderful school. I just encourage you to continue to provide the support our school needs and encourage your child to work hard.

“These children are so smart and deserve the best education possible. I love the way parents at Red Bay are involved in their child’s education. This is great to see.

“My passion is in elementary, and it is such an honor to be here,” Burks added. “I just look forward to getting to know the parents and children better and continuing to provide the best education possible at Red Bay Elementary. I hope parents feel free to come to me when they need me.”

Burks said she is looking forward to the day when she learns all the children’s names and gets to know them all better. She said she hears her name a lot during the day and is looking forward when she can respond with a name as well.

“I am loving working with this staff,” said Burks. “Everyone gets along so well and works well as a team. Their goal is to provide the best possible education for these children. Everyone has made me feel so welcome and provided me help along the way. The staff feels like a family, and that makes a great place to work.”

Burks and her husband Tim have two children: Camron, a 15-year-old sophomore at RBHS, and 10-year-old Anna Kate, a fifth-grade student at RBHS.

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