Reflecting on The Power of Community: The Story of Mr. Burdick

Community efforts to aid a popular substitute teacher were sparked by students. One year later, members of the PA community weigh in.

Back to Article
Back to Article

Reflecting on The Power of Community: The Story of Mr. Burdick

Trevor Michon, Alexa Tracy, and Ryan Maestas

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Believe it or not, teachers are human too. They have responsibilities and obligations outside of the classroom. They get sick, they have appointments they can’t miss, and they often have children of their own who require time and attention. As such, they can’t always be present in class. When this happens, they call in a substitute. Historically, most students view a class with a substitute as a day to forgo work, chat with friends, and generally kick their feet up and relax. However, there are a select few substitutes which manage to keep the attention on them and instill some knowledge into the class in those short forty-five minute periods. There is one such substitute at Pinkerton who exemplifies these rare and outstanding qualities: Mr. Burdick. All around campus, we found glowing praise for his positive attitude and love for teaching. One interviewee said, “He knows how to connect with the students on a personal level.” Yet another proclaimed, “Mr. Burdick is a pretty neat guy.” When asked about why he thinks so many students like having him as a substitute teacher, Mr. Burdick himself said. “I show respect to the students in order to get it back.” He is one of the most loved substitutes on the campus and everyone is extremely excited to see him in their class. He makes a slow class fun and entertaining for the students, while sticking to the agenda at hand.

” That man should have private security following him around. He should be protected.”-Miguel Batista

For Mr. Burdick, last year that respect came back around in a big way when he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and his wife was in need of a kidney transplant. When word got out, it spread around campus like wildfire. Before long, a GoFundMe was organized with the goal of raising 10,000 dollars for the bills. The entire Pinkerton Academy campus came together and the target was hit handily, with 445 donors raising $11,655 dollars. When asked about it, Mr. Burdick said he was “entirely shocked by the support” and attributes it to his respect for the students as a major part of the gracious funding. He also stated that the GoFundMe was a major help with the expenses and bills. In fact, due to serendipitous timing of early cancer detection, the short amount of time before the GoFundMe took off, and the amount of money donated, Mr. Burdick said he never even had to undergo chemotherapy or radiation, thus avoiding the pain and suffering common with such serious illnesses.

Substitutes are becoming increasingly difficult to find these days. The fact that Pinkerton Academy was fortunate enough to hire one as amazing and caring as Mr. Burdick makes his story even more remarkable. He is great at his job and enjoys doing it, which is even rarer. He is passionate and caring towards all of the students, even offering the occasional advice or life lesson. His stories are amazing and always keep people entertained and on the edge of their seats. So, next time you walk into class and the teacher is gone–thank a substitute. You never know when they will be needed next.