teacher of the year andrea burk in classroom 2 1

Teachers Touching Lives: 2021 Teacher of the Year & Finalists

Special Feature


Our Birmingham Christian Family(BCF) 2021 Teacher of the Year is…Andrea Burk from Helena Elementary School! Readers voted on social media from among five top teacher finalists all nominated by readers. Burk will enjoy a two-night stay at Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tenn. with a one-day pass to SoundWaves(for up to family of four) plus a $40 Gift Card to Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Birmingham. Upon surprising her with the news, Burk shared with us, “My mission field is here- at the school each day. I enjoy these kids so much!”

Teacher of the Year Andrea Burk with Principal Mary Anderson
BCF Readers have chosen Andrea Burk, a veteran kindergarten teacher at Helena Elementary School, as our Teacher of the Year! She is seen her with her Principal Mary Anderson.

From her nomination, read here how Burk is making a difference in our community. “When you get a kindergarten teacher that has been teaching for 36 years, you know one of two things to be true: she’s either crazy or your child has just been blessed with the woman by whom all future teachers will be measured. With Andrea Burk, you get the latter. Once your child becomes one of “Burk’s Bunch”, they have just entered not only a classroom of learners, but a family full of love, laughter, wonder, imagination, and dreams. Sure, Mrs. Burk can tell you of academic progress, current teaching trends, and the like, but her eyes light up when she tells you about the kindness she sees, the ability to collaborate to solve problems, or how the children take care of and love one another. She so faithfully demonstrates love, joy, patience, and forgiveness to each child that this sense of family weaves its way through to how the children treat each other. Mrs. Burk’s energy and zest for meaningful teaching and learning NEVER slows down. With her years of experience, she could easily recycle things that have worked in the past and coast through, but she doesn’t. The last day of the first semester, when many classrooms have taken down trees and cleaned up in anticipation of the break, Andrea’s tree is still glowing, FULL of handmade ornaments, and her tables have been rearranged to transform the room into the Polar Express for one more glorious day of fun.

Teacher of the Year Andrea Burk with Anna Brooks Belew
BCF Teacher of the Year Andrea Burk with student, Anna Brooks Belew, whose mother Ashley nominated Burk for the award.

The stories of the commitment Andrea has as she devotes herself to helping her babies love to learn are legendary throughout Helena. There was the year that she converted her room to a baseball field the last week of school to keep students engaged until the end, or the time she turned the room into a campsite- complete with thematic reading and math stations that complemented learning requirements, or the countless Mother’s Day Teas she has hosted throughout the years. All of these things are well beyond what’s required to do, but she enthusiastically does them because she LOVES her babies. This year, in a time of so many changes, fears and uncertainties, Mrs. Burk has once again made her kindergarten classroom a place of safety, wonder, imagination and learning. To the woman who sets the bar unimaginably high for all future teachers, THANK YOU, and may you be blessed over and above for all you do.

-Nominated by: Ashley Belew, Parent of Student

Here are ways our other four outstanding finalists are making a difference! Click here to read their full nominations.

Connie KakolirisConnie Kakoliris, Meadow View Elementary School. She teaches second grade. This year, she is our lead teacher for our virtual students in Champions Virtual Academy. She is also our technology coach for our school. She wears many hats at Meadow View. Her innovativeness in technology has increased her instructional strategies and approaches that positively impact student achievement. She has also led several Professional Development classes on technology to help other teachers in our school. Her lesson plans are proof that she tries new ways to reach students in this digital age.”

Nominated by: Principal Michelle Brakefield

Chelsea ShanksChelsea Shanks, Thompson Intermediate School. “For us, the time not in school was devastating. My child has struggled to write, read, and comprehend math. His was progressing so much when everything came to a stop last March. And the regression for him was bad. But when he was able to return to traditional class, Mrs. Shanks dove right in and got Noah back up to where he left off last March. She did this while also assuring us that our son would do great. Now Noah can write independently and legibly. He is reading so much and comprehends it!”

Nominated by: Cheryl Humpherys, Parent of Student

Racheal TriceRacheal Trice, Chelsea Middle School. Mrs. Trice has exhibited all of the aspects that I have wanted in a leader as well as a physical education teacher. She is passionate about students and has a determination to grow each day. Her colleagues often depend on her for guidance and partnership. Mrs. Trice has served as a mentor to new teachers as well as being an integral part of our interview committee. She also has done a fantastic job while serving as our FCA and First Priority Sponsor.”

-Nominated by: Principal Caroline Obert

Lt. Col. Douglas CrabbLt. Col. Douglas Crabb, Thompson High School. Lt. Col. Crabb has created endless opportunities for his students to be engaged in curricular and extracurricular activities, providing a platform for students who would not have these opportunities in any other capacity. He not only creates opportunities for his students, but Lt. Col. Crabb makes Thompson JROTC a home and family atmosphere for his students to be safe, engaged, and successful. Lt. Col. Crabb encourages his students to be the best version of themselves and inspires them to make a difference in the world. Lt. Col. Crabb has a sincere passion for his students’ learning and success, and he is a strong advocate for each and every one.”

-Nominated by: Principal Wesley Hester

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