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West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Tuesday, June 19, 2012
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View photo by Michael Clawson
WHITE TANKS LEARNING CENTER teacher Carl Burks stands wearing a cape in his classroom. Burks in this week’s Teacher of the Week.
Teacher of the Week
This series spotlights teachers nominated by school district officials. One teacher a week will be featured from each of the 14 West Valley districts in alphabetical order.
Name: Carl Burks Age: 27 School: White Tanks Learning Center District: Litchfield Elementary Grade: Sixth through eighth
Taking Charge,” by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus. Nominated by: Jennifer Benjamin,
“Leaders — Strategies For
White Tanks Learning Center director — “He is an amazing teacher that not only can improve students’ academics, but builds relationships with students as well.
program is teaching skills about how to advocate for oneself, drug prevention, bullying prevention and many other needed skills.
“He has transitioned 50 percent of his students back to their home-schools, where they have found success in academics, behavior and attendance.” West Valley View: What is your favorite lesson to teach, and why?
Subject: Social skills, reading, math and history Years teaching: Three Favorite book:
Carl Burks: My passion is history and I love creating and teaching lessons that bring history to life. I have found that simulations, also known as role-playing, are a great way to get students excited about learning. I have learned that in doing this, all of the students are engaged and they have the opportunity to learn using a variety of different methods. I enjoy doing group projects with the students, which is how students can interact with each other and learn how to accept feedback from others. The students are also given a chance to share their opinions and what they have learned throughout the lesson. Helping students engage in the activity, have buy-in and form opinions gives them a sense of entitlement and encouragement in their education. WVV: What is your favorite moment from teaching
“He provides explicit social skills lessons daily to his students and has had amazing success. Part of his
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surrounded by professionals who support and believe in me. One moment that stands out in my mind was two or three years ago. I was working with a group of students on a history simulation called the Black Death. One student who particularly didn’t like school and
had a very negative outlook on learning approached me after class and thanked me for making class fun. He asked if we always did lessons like this in class and if he could learn more about the bubonic plague. Then he started to ask questions and make connections with diseases that the world is currently dealing with today. WVV: What is your favorite specific memory from
your days in school? Burks: Growing up, school was always a struggle and something that I dreaded. My past experiences have motivated me and have helped shape the teacher that I am today.
Struggling with school in my past has inspired me to help students that may feel the same way as I did. I have looked up to my mentors and have learned to appreciate what they have taught me. Even though I don’t have a specific memory that stands out, I have found joy in seeing my students take an active lead in their education. WVV: Who was your favorite teacher, and why? Burks: A teacher that has made the biggest impact on my life is my mentor teacher. He helped me realize my potential and pointed me in the direction for success. He has helped me improve my strengths and taught me how to cope with my weaknesses. He influenced many of the decisions that I have made and continue to make. I truly looked up to him and the good examples he set for me. He taught me life lessons that I have been able to implement in my teaching. WVV: If you weren’t a teacher, what would you
Burks: I can’t imagine doing anything other than teaching. It’s my passion; it’s what gives me purpose. I enjoy being a leader and have students look up to me. If I was not a teacher, I probably would have joined the armed services and would pursue a career in the military.
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