Sandra Burgess

Middle School English; English Curriculum Leader

sburgess@morganparkacademy.org

Ms. Burgess holds a B.A. in English and Classical Studies from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), a Master’s degree in English and the Teaching of Writing from SIUE, and a Master’s degree in history from the University of Missouri.

She previously taught composition, literature, and history courses at colleges and universities including SIUE, Washington University in St. Louis, Westminster College, Stephens College, Lewis and Clark Community College, and St. Louis Community College.

Q&A

Why do you choose to teach at Morgan Park Academy?

I choose to teach at Morgan Park Academy because I want to make a difference in students’ lives. After teaching at the college level for many years, I enjoy being a part of student learning earlier in the process and helping motivate students to be curious learners.

I love moments like when the figurative “light bulb” blinks on over a student’s head, or when a student asks a surprising question that shows me they are truly thinking about what they are learning.

What do you want your students to take away from having known you?

I want them to know that you should never stop learning, that learning about the people and the world around you makes you a more aware and knowledgeable citizen. I also want them to see me as someone who is ready and willing not only to teach them but also to learn from them.

How do you help students learn to learn?

I try to take a multi-disciplinary and diverse approach to teaching. I understand and recognize that not all of us learn in the same way or at the same pace. I try to build into my classes varied ways of learning. I also seek to encourage students to become critical thinkers, readers, and writers, knowing that these skills are necessary for success in their later academic pursuits. Therefore, I work to make this happen in my classroom, seeking to try a number of ways to impart the materials to them. I want them to immerse themselves in materials, learning about the history, the social connections, and the influence that works of literature have on people.

What professional development activities have you participated in recently?

I am very interested in new ways to reach students. Recently, I presented at conferences for the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) and the Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS).

At AMLE, I spoke about the importance of teaching the reading and writing of poetry in the middle school classroom, specifically as a way to increase critical thinking, reading, and writing. At ISACS, Mrs. Kurut and I presented on how we can create classrooms designed for learners from all types of family structures, focusing on how to create a curriculum which speaks to every student rather than excluding.

What was your path to Morgan Park Academy?

In 1999, after graduating from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, I began teaching rhetoric, composition, and literature at the collegiate level. After taking a short study abroad trip to Greece and Turkey, I decided to further my education and in 2001 began a graduate study program in ancient history at the University of Missouri. During my time in Missouri, I worked as a mentor/tutor for MU student-athletes, a graduate teaching assistant in the MU History department, an adjunct instructor at Stephens College, and a visiting lecturer at Westminster College. I moved back to Illinois and began teaching at Lewis and Clark Community College and St. Louis Community College before coming to MPA in 2014.

What are some of your interests and hobbies?

I love to read, write, watch television, take photographs, and see films. I love traveling, from short, two-day trips to longer journeys around the world. I have a list of countries and states that I want to visit, and every chance I get, I mark one off my list! I also love to continue learning and am always looking for ways to increase my knowledge and to broaden my view of the world.