A local Pre-K teacher was recently awarded the Shooting Star Award from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.
Jennifer Burns is a Pre-K teacher at Robert D. Sloman Primary School in Douglas. She is one of the 15 teachers who received this award. There are over 900 Pre-K teachers in the entire state of Alabama.
These department awards were created to honor the exemplary examples of dedication, integrity, and passion they encounter daily in Pre-K programs across the state. Teachers are nominated, and they are reviewed by a respected group of professionals not employed by the Department of Early Childhood Education according to the ECE.
Burns has been teaching Pre-K for 20 years for Marshall County Schools and has been in Douglas for 12 years. She has always known that she wanted to work with younger children.
She received her Ed.S. in Educational Administration and Supervision from Lincoln Memorial University. She also has her masters in Early Childhood Education from Jacksonville State University. Burns also has a Bachelor’s of Science in Allied Health Education, a masters in Allied Health Education and is a registered respiratory therapist.
“My educational philosophy is simple,” Burns said. “All children construct knowledge based upon their prior experiences, and children need to be active while constructing knowledge.”
Burns believes that everyone can learn.
“What we want from our children as they leave the classroom is for them to be independent problem solvers,” Burns said. “The quicker we learn how to solve a problem, whether it be a social problem or a math problem, the more beneficial our society will be.”
Burns loves to be able to see her students grow and prosper.
“I love to be able to see their numbers grow at least through those early childhood years,” Burns said. “Most of our students are not involved in any type of intervention service, and Pre-K closes that achievement gap. It allows them to build that foundation for success.”
Some of her students have gone to get nursing degrees and even early childhood education degrees as well.
Burns credits Secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education Jeana Ross for getting her started into Pre-K. Burns was working at Claysville School when they decided to work on the Pre-K program.
“I knew then that little children were who I wanted to work with,” Burns said.
She was honored at a luncheon at the 2018 Alabama First Class Pre-K Conference in Mobile in January. There three winners from four different categories of the awards including Rising Star, Shining Star, Shooting Star and Super Star.
Burns was awarded the Shooting Star. This award is for a lead teacher, auxiliary teacher or program director that consistently sets and achieves professional goals for their programs and classrooms according to the ECE.
She had no idea that the award was coming.
“I received the email in December telling me I got it and inviting me to the luncheon in January.” Burns said. “Of course, I accepted it.”
She currently has 18 students in her classroom, and she plans on teaching Pre-K for a long time.
“We have a lot of fun,” Burns said. “It’s challenging, but it is worth it.”