For the first time ever, a teacher in the Dubuque Community School District is Iowa's Teacher of the Year.
Chris Burke speaks to the students and faculty of Roosevelt Middle School in Dubuque on Thursday, Nov. 1 after receiving the Teacher of the Year recognition. (Allison Wong, KCRG-TV9)
Chris Burke was presented with the award at Roosevelt Middle School on Thursday, Nov. 1. Burke teaches math at the middle school and is also a teacher leader. It was a surprise assembly for the students and faculty.
Governor Kim Reynolds spoke at the assembly. When she started to describe Burke, the entire gym was filled with murmurs and whispers, the students wondering who it could be.
When his name was announced, everyone erupted in cheers and applause.
Burke said he found out before the assembly that he was selected.
"I'm surrounded by an incredible staff. The mentors I've had over the years, I hold them in the highest regard, so to be even considered up with them on their platform, it means a great deal," he said.
When he's teaching, Burke said he imagines if his 13-year-old self was in the classroom, and how he would want a teacher to be.
"Not too confident in himself, a little shy, wanting to do well, but not always having what he needs to move forward. And being there for the kiddos who need that," Burke explained. "Being a solid presence in their life, being a rock for some, you know, giving them something to ground themselves, and being a balloon for others and picking them up when they need it.”
Burke says it's important to him to be there for each of his students in whatever way possible.