Teacher of the Year Mark Buerkle sets high standards for students
“Kids deserve the show every day,” said 2017 Springfield Teacher of the Year Mark Buerkle during a recent interview.
“We can’t just come in and teach,” Mr. Buerkle continued. “They deserve our enthusiasm. They deserve our attention. It’s important to listen to them. I think I do a pretty good job at that. I entertain a lot. I even sing in my classroom.”
Springfield High School Principal Pat Moriarty says, “Mr. Buerkle establishes classroom expectations and holds his students accountable.”
David Kreft, former Springfield High School principal, said, “He has a diverse toolbox of strategies to meet the needs of each learner.”
“I’m one of the guys from the old school,” Mr. Buerkle commented. “Discipline and structure are the most important facets because kids can’t learn without them.”
His students will tell you that they are not allowed to hand in sloppy work.
“If it’s not quality, they have to redo it. I’m picky on neatness, and it comes back to discipline, structure and respect,” Mr. Buerkle acknowledged. “I value that in my classroom.”
“It is important to make good connections with students,” said the Teacher of the Year. “I have good relationships with my students, but I hold them to high standards.” He quotes American author and leadership expert John C. Maxwell who said, “ ‘Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ I follow that.” Connecting with students allows instructors to build rapport in the classroom and creates a mutually beneficial and exciting learning environment. Students will feel more comfortable expressing their feelings in or out of class. Students are more likely to get excited about the course content and improve their class participation. Students feel valued and therefore more willing to be intellectually challenged by the instructor.
Mr. Buerkle teaches English at Springfield High School, and coaches eighth-grade boys basketball. He is a certified baseball umpire and basketball referee. He is busy in the spring umpiring baseball games and feels fortunate to have been selected to umpire at state tournaments the past three years. He also volunteers time in the youth basketball and baseball programs.
Mark Buerkle became interested in a teaching career during high school. Initially, he wanted to teach phy ed and coach. However, during his college practicum, he learned that the gymnasium was not where he wanted to spend his entire career. A college professor advised him to consider teaching English.
It was a good choice for Mr. Buerkle. English may not be the easiest subject to teach, because some students think it’s boring; but reading, writing, spelling, grammar, literature and independent study are important to develop life skills and be an effective communicator.