Storyteller on a Mission
After spending 20 years working in public school classrooms in Little Rock, Dr. John S. Burgin knew he had made a difference in the lives of many children. But, he thought, he could make much more of an impact â€“ and touch that many more lives â€“ by training college students to be better public school educators.
As an assistant professor with the College of Education, Dr. Burgin is able to do just that. The â€śold hippie gone to seedâ€ť is able to serve as a true mentor for future teachers who are just beginning to form their own classroom approaches as well as work to improve and enhance student achievement.
â€śTeaching is a mission,â€ť Dr. Burgin said. â€śMy students are sold on the idea of saving the world, one child at a time. I want to encourage teachers to take a risk in the classroom; often that pays off with a better education for the children involved.â€ť
Dr. Burginâ€™s influence, however, does not end when UALR students have left his classroom. He has recorded, edited, and produced multiple instructional DVDs to model classroom theory and link those premises to practice. These DVDs are made from actual field experiences of students working in a summer literacy program, and they are worth their weight in gold to a new teacher who needs a little extra guidance and a few reminders of good practices in the classroom.
â€śThese recordings not only gave me a wealth of ideas to use in the classroom, they also helped to calm my anxiety,â€ť said Christina Pennington, a kindergarten teacher at Chicot Elementary School in Little Rock. â€śI had examples to work from. Having a roadmap to follow was an invaluable resource.â€ť
Dr. Burgin earned his bachelorâ€™s degree in experimental psychology from Hendrix College and his masterâ€™s degree in educational psychology and educational specialist degree in reading from Indiana University. He finished the requirements for his doctorate in curriculum and instruction at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He is a certified assessor for the Praxis III examination and is a reading and early childhood education specialist.