By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
A light bulb moment is a favorite thing of the Gainesville Independent School District (GISD) teacher of the month Kandy Burkhart.
Burkhart, second grade teacher at W.E.Chalmers, says when her students start to learn, she can almost see the light come over them.
“It is so rewarding to see them finally grasp something I had been teaching,” she said. “It is a definite light bulb moment.”
Burkhart has been a teacher in the GISD for 23 years with an additional five years spent when she first started teaching at Callisburg.
She started her teaching career in the GISD by teaching first grade at the old Franklin school with principal Patrick Hermes.
When asked about Kandy Burkhart, Hermes said that she was a great addition to the staff at Franklin and she always had such a positive attitude.
“The children all loved Mrs. Burkhart and she was such a natural teacher,” Hermes said. “I haven’t seen her in a while but I know she deserves every good thing that comes her way.”
Burkhart said that when you work in a small community, you begin to see generational students.
“In time I may eventually teach three generations of students from the same family,” Burkhart said. “It makes for a close knit community and I love watching my students grow and become productive citizens of our community and beyond.”
Burkhart currently gives back to the community by playing the organ at the First Baptist Church in Gainesville and by singing in the choir.
She said that she always wanted to be a teacher, influenced by her own fifth grade teacher, Blanche Rosenberg, and two sisters.
“I have two older sisters who also went into teaching,” she continued. “My sister Elaine White teaches at the University of Mississippi and at one time taught music at Gainesville Middle School. My other sister Donna Martin is now retired.”
“I guess they are both my heroes,” she fondly said.
After two years at North Central Texas College, Burkhart continued her education at Texas Woman’s University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She is married to city of Gainesville employee Jeff Burkhart and they have five children: Katy Pyle, a teacher at Edison Elementary, Jake Burkhart of Austin; Kara Coberley, working on a masters degree in school counseling in Marietta OK.; Karly Rhodes, studying education at Oklahoma Baptist University, and Gainesville High School freshman Jake Rhodes.
A spirited granddaughter Molly Kate Pyle, age two, obviously is the apple of her grandma’s eye.
As a teacher, Burkhart does more than just teach textbook curriculum to her students.
“We teach more than what is in the lesson plan,” she said. “We also work with social skills and teach the whole child,” she said.
She teaches all levels of students in her class but tries to find ways to reach each one individually based on their own abilities and merit.
“Reading is especially challenging for many of our students and we don’t want them to get discouraged if some classmates are doing better so we set specific goals for each child,” she said. “We let them see their own progress and encourage them individually. After their initial test, they can see their improvements on subsequent tests. They don’t become discouraged because they see how much they are achieving. We build on their increasing confidence and they take pride in what they are accomplishing.”
The students at Chalmers do not take part in the mandated State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test until they are in third grade but the second grade teachers help prepare their students for the next year.
“Although our second grade students do not take the test, our principal Tammy Fuhrmann brought us together to work as a team,” she said. “ We all take pride in the third graders accomplishments because we are wanting the best for all of our students.”
Burkhart credits her father, 1942 GHS graduate Gene Bomar, for his unfailing interest in his children and grandchildren. The 88 year old Bomar, an avid basketball fan, still attends many GHS games and is a frequent domino player at the Gainesville Stanford House.
“My dad is very active and has always been there for us in what ever we attempted,” Burkhart recalled. “I think he is very proud that many of his children and grand children have found careers in education.”
In nominating Kandy Burkhart for the GISD teacher of the month, fellow teacher Patricia Baucum said, “Kandy devotes herself sacrificially for the children of this district. I have seen her many times arriving at school at 7 a.m. and closing down the building with the janitor at 6 p.m. Almost daily she gives up her lunch time to tutor and work with struggling students and donates many summer hours in developing new ideas and projects. She is one of the most humble teachers that I know, and I am definitely a better teacher and person for knowing her.”
By CATHY MOUNCE
- Local News
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