Teacher of the Month: Tracy Burroughs

Teacher of the Month: Tracy Burroughs

Teacher of the month is a segment of The Spectator where we feature a teacher at Berkley High School and take a deep dive into their lives beyond the classroom in order for the BHS community to get to know them better. This October, we are featuring Tracy Burroughs. She teaches Spanish 3, Spanish 4, and AP Spanish in room 137 at Berkley.

Mrs. Burroughs had an interesting childhood– one that took her to many places around the world. She started school in Toledo, then moved overseas and started school in Iran. She then went to school in Pakistan and eventually Interlocken to finish high school. Originally, Mrs. Burroughs majored in political science and wanted to conduct political science research at a university, but clearly her passion shifted. I talked to Mrs. Burroughs about her life inside and outside of teaching.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being a teacher? A: Most rewarding is that I really really like being around people that are engaged. I think there is something wonderful about young people that stops the rest of us from falling into old habits. I appreciate that about young people with their enthusiasm and their energy.

Q: What is one challenge you come across when teaching?
A: I find technology a huge challenge, and I worry about kids who are addicted to technology and that become a little agoraphobic if they don’t have some sort of intermediary between themselves and other people. That makes me a little concerned.

Q: How is this school similar or different to the school you went to growing up?
A: It’s pretty different because I grew up overseas. I was in the middle east until the end of my tenth grade. Part way through the year I was evacuated from my school in Pakistan, so I spent time in the States, so that was quite difficult. Then my last two years of high school I was at Interlocken which was a boarding school, so our arts classes were mixed in with the academics throughout the day. If you didn’t have class, you could go back to your dorm. So, that was pretty different from Berkley.
Q: Who was the best teacher you ever had and how have they impacted your teaching? A: Michael Chamberlin. He taught me ecology at Interlocken in my junior year. I took another class with him in my senior year. But the junior class was so great because we had class for a couple hours at a time, so we would go out and go canoeing or go hiking in the woods, and we’d find deer jaw bones. We learned to cook and filet ferns and make them edible. He taught me a lot about the natural world. But the bigger thing was for me to view my role in the natural world as not something that’s meant for other people but for me. I have a very strong environmental interest because of him. He was just a wonderful person, very caring and patient. He exemplified so many good things.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you had known on your first day as a teacher? A: I wish I had known to buy a yearbook every year because I have been teaching for so long. I wish I had yearbooks for all of those people I’ve taught.
Q: Did you always want to be a teacher? If not, what did you want to be? A: I did not want to be a teacher. I went to college and wanted to study wolves. I also loved to dance and choreography in particular. Then after college I moved to Spain and earned my living teaching English, so I kind of got into teaching Spanish backwards. After teaching in Spain for a couple years, I came back and got my teaching certificate.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along? A: People are so varied and that is wonderful and to really feel comfortable being who or what you are, that’s what makes the world wonderful. To really revel in those differences and our unique qualities. Also, don’t think what you love now is what you’ll be doing in 30 years.

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