We are excited to introduce you to our newest faculty member in the New Community family! Ann Burdette teaches Language Arts at NCA and comes to us with years of experience in education, a gift for languages (she speaks four!), and a passion for a faith foundation that begins in the family. We sat down with Ann to let you see behind the scenes into what fuels her deep love for teaching and learning.
Where did you get your degree and what did you study?
I have a degree in French Literature and a minor in German from UCSD and San Diego State.
Tell us about becoming a teacher:
I was planning on becoming a single subject high school teacher, but plans changed when my husband entered the Marine Corps. I decided to homeschool my seven children, and I homeschooled for 20 years. When we lived in Apple Valley, our children began attending a charter school in the area, where I also became a substitute teacher. There I had the opportunity to teach everything from kindergarten to 12th grade, along with many long-term subbing positions. I could be in a high school chemistry class one day and with the little ones the next day — every day was different. I really enjoyed substitute teaching different grades and different levels.
I also really enjoyed teaching special education classes, which taught me to teach the student as an individual, not to simply teach the curriculum. I realized my job was to find out how each student learns and how to help him learn.
What drew you to teaching at New Community Academy?
New Community was an answer to my son’s needs at the right time. Seeing him thrive there made us want to stay with it. I had gotten to know [Executive Director] Kimberly and the school already on a personal level as a New Community parent. I had also recently gotten involved as a volunteer tutor with Pomona Youth Club. My husband, along with my previous experience working with the special needs population as a substitute, prompted me to look into the open position for Language Arts teacher. I prayed for God to open up a clear path because my life was very full already with grandkids, weddings, and being a mom of college kids. He directed my path here, and I love it. When I leave the class at the end of the day, I feel energized. I really enjoy myself and my interaction with the students.
What are you most excited about this year?
I’m really excited to hear what the students will discover in their Individual Learning Projects (ILP) this year, which I am helping facilitate. These are research projects the students are already starting to plan now. I can’t wait to see what they uncover, and I’m hoping through daily practice to get them over their butterflies of public speaking. We are creating a safe place to learn and work toward public speaking, which will give our students a huge advantage over their peers because they are already exercising this important skill. These students will be able to look their audience in the eye and slowly, methodically work through their project. I’m really excited to see how these projects turn out this year!
What is your teaching style or philosophy?
My challenge to myself is to remember that I am not teaching a curriculum, I’m teaching students. I try to always remember that perspective. Each student has a learning modality and an interest level, along with strengths, hindrances, and obstacles to overcome. I want to present tools and skills in a way that students can grasp them. God wired each person a certain way, and He has plans for you! I always want our students to know they are not alone in this education and in this life. Their creator has a plan, and He will be faithful to show each one of them. Each day I pray, “God, show me what it is you need from me, and how I can best serve you.” God is unfolding things nicely so far this school year, and the kids are responding very well!
What does New Community mean to you?
I know first hand what it is like to have a bright, competent child who wants to learn, but is not being served well for any number of reasons in the typical large public high school. I also know firsthand what a God-send New Community has been to my family, the difference it has made in our home life, and the happiness it has brought to my child! New Community is innovative, and I love the emphasis put on a small classroom size.
Tell us something we might not know about you:
I’ve always had an interest in world missions, especially in closed countries. I was a short-term missionary serving the underground church in Eastern Europe during the Cold War in the 1980s, when the persecution of the church was severe. My gift for languages gave me a desire to go into mission work.
Also, I’m a 20-year Marine Corps wife, which has given me an appreciation for flexibility in one’s educational program due to all of our moves and deployments. Because of this background, I have found that the best educational plans flex with the students’ needs.
What do you like to do for fun outside the classroom?
I love being with our growing family. We have 7 children, and our two oldest are now having grandbabies, so this stage of life is fun and busy. You never know when you’ll get a call to babysit. We’ve had a wonderful time raising our family and bringing them up in the Lord. I believe you need to live out your faith in your family. The foundation of faith should be in the home.