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Teaching students is the only place Science Hill’s David Burgin wants to be

Contributed To The Press • Feb 16, 2020 at 8:00 AM

Editor’s Note: The following is the second of three articles regarding Johnson City Schools’ Teachers of the Year.

Science Hill economics teacher Dr. David Burgin is quickly approaching 30 years of teaching on The Hill. While some may be thinking about retirement, Burgin still has both of his feet firmly planted in the classroom.

“I don’t think like that,” Burgin said about retirement through a smile. “I can’t imagine doing anything different.”

Burgin was recently named the Johnson City Schools’ Teacher of the Year for grades 9-12 and he said he was humbled by the honor. While he wasn’t keen talking about himself, he quickly swelled with pride when he mentioned his teaching peers.

“It’s a little overwhelming for me to think about,” said Burgin of the honor. “At any given day there are teachers connecting with students in incredible ways and it’s fun for me to get to work with so many amazing people. So to be part of that is really cool. … It’s an amazing honor.”

Burgin joined Lake Ridge Elementary teacher Melissa Preudhomme (K-4) and Liberty Bell Middle School math teacher Nicole Havert (5-8) as Johnson City Schools’ Teachers of the Year.

While Burgin’s favorite subject to teach is economics, one of his favorite parts of teaching is learning from his peers.

“The people that I teach with and around have made my job so enjoyable,” Burgin said. “We have formed deep friendships over the years and it makes a huge difference.”

Burgin also has a deep appreciation for engaging with students. Since 2006, he has served on the College Board to help develop the Advanced Placement economics test. Burgin doesn’t consider himself an expert in economics, but he does have a unique ability to connect the subject matter to his students.

“When you see those students that maybe haven’t had other AP courses and they connect with the material, then they go on and start thinking like economists or they go on and find success in college that is what really gets me excited.

“A lot of people, when they get into teaching, they think it is to give something back, but quickly you learn how reciprocal teaching is. The kids give a lot back to us that never gets recognized.”

But more than his teaching ability, Burgin’s positive attitude has helped him be a favorite in the hallways of Science Hill. That is a trait he picked up from a conversation he had with a former colleague. Burgin fondly recalls a day in the 90s when he was a bit down. He vividly recalls a coworker and mentor, Dr. Charles Griffith, telling him, “If you have a bad day, it’s your own fault.”

Burgin still smiles when he recalls that conversation.

“Like many other times, Dr. Griffith was right,” Burgin said. “We have so many opportunities to have a great day. We can seize every opportunity we have with our students to have a positive impact. I think that’s what has kept me going.”

Burgin also has a positive impact on college students. He has served as an adjunct professor at ETSU since 2001. That gives him an opportunity to work with college students that are preparing to be teachers.

“That just feeds the excitement of it,” Burgin said of his adjunct position. “I think every fall when I gear up for teaching those classes, I get another round of really energetic, young people, who are going into the education field and I am reminded why I do it.

“The relationships that I have with the students and the connections I make there are something that I really value. I am truly a blessed man with the opportunities that I’ve had.”

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