IDEA Teacher Spotlight: Megan Burnham

Megan Burnham is currently a Special Education teacher at IDEA Mays College Preparatory. Originally from New York, Megan found herself on a path to law school, but after spending time in Northern Ireland, found herself with a calling to assist students in underserved communities.

I’m just very happy to be working here at IDEA,” Megan said. “I’m very blessed especially that I ended up here at IDEA Mays – I love our staff and our team that we work with each day. Our principal and our assistant principal are both amazing.”

Having spent six years teaching in Prince Georgia’s County Public Schools in Maryland, Megan has established her home in Texas as a founding teacher at IDEA Mays College Preparatory. Read on to learn more about how she gives 100% every day by supporting students on their education journey.   


What does your education journey look like?
A) I was on a very different path. I’ve always worked with kids. I was a basketball coach from the time that I was in 10th grade, and I also did tutoring and mentoring but I never connected that as wanting to be in teaching.
I was actually a political science major in college, and I was interested in going to law school. But, during my junior year in college…I was studying abroad in Northern Ireland. I was doing an independent study, and I was working with the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland to help build de-segregated schools; non specifically religious affiliated schools where students would come from different backgrounds and be educated together. This project got me very interested in education, and I came back to the U.S. and completed my senior thesis on the comparison of religiously integrated schools in Northern Ireland and racially integrated schools within the U.S.
It was then that I decided I wanted to be a teacher, and I was accepted to the Prince George’s County teaching fellows after graduation.

Wow! You have traveled and experienced so much! Are those experiences something that you keep with you as you teach?
A) Where I was teaching was in an underserved area, with very low-income students who were from a very wide variety of backgrounds. About 80% of my students were ELL students. So when I came to San Antonio I wanted that same environment. I wanted to work with underserved students, I wanted to work where children really needed high-quality teachers.

What do you love about working at IDEA? What has your journey with IDEA looked like?
A) One of the things that I love about working at IDEA is the staff that I work with each day. Last year was our founding year at my school. I was a founding staff member, and our team just clicked immediately and everybody was here for the same reason -- to meet the best interest of our students. We are all committed to doing everything that we can to help support our students. I had not been in an environment like that where everyone was on the same page before. I get the input that I need from my principal, and I get the support that I need from my fellow teachers. We are really able to drive students to success. We have seen a lot of progress with our kids. It’s pretty incredible.

What was challenging about your first year that you have overcome?
A) I have had a couple of challenges with coming to IDEA. One of the things that I really had to adjust to (because I’m also an interventionist) was our Direct Instruction (DI) program that we use. I had never used the DI program before so that was a big adjustment for me. I came from somewhere where I was independently lesson planning for my students. Fortunately, with my principal, we have found a balance between implementing the DI Programs and also providing students with the grade level TEKS-based, skilled instruction that they need in order to be successful in their general education classrooms.

Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about applying to IDEA? 
A) One of the things that I think is so great about IDEA is the level of support that you receive. As a teacher at IDEA, I have had my manager, instructional specialists, and other teachers provide me with feedback. Each of these people offer me new ideas for different ways that I can reach my students. I feel like my principal is a constant face in my classroom, and our students are very familiar with him. Our students know leaders are here to support their instruction, and that was very different from what I had experienced in my public school setting.

What is your proudest moment as a teacher?
A) I have two! Last year we had a student come in at a third grade reading level in sixth grade. They were three years below grade level in reading. By the time they left my intervention group at the end of the year they were reading on a seventh grade level!
We also had a student come in on a first grade reading level who by the end of the year was up to a fourth grade reading level and also passed their grade level STAAR exam.

It just makes me want to work even harder and to continue to do that for more students. We had a huge assembly last year to celebrate growth for all of our students, and it was amazing. I was crying, parents were crying -- it was just an incredible feeling to see how much progress our students were able to make and how quickly they were able to make that progress when they were given the right support.

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