Beloved Ms. Burger

Beloved+Ms.+Burger

Michael Moonjely

Since the fall of 1991, math teacher Patricia Burger has entertained thousands of students with her sharp sense of humor and chic fashion sense. At the end of this school year, Burger will retire after 24 years of teaching.

West was much different in 1991, and Burger cites technology as something that has changed drastically over her teaching career.

“When I started at West, if I wanted to make copies of a test I would have to go to a mimeograph machine and now young teachers probably don’t even know what a mimeograph is,” Burger laughs. “In 24 years we have gotten phones in the classroom, computers, email, and SmartBoards.”

Over the years, Burger has had several memorable teaching moments. She is specifically proud of being a mentor for two students who received teaching awards. The personal connections she develops with students are extremely important to her, and one moment stands out in particular.

“When I taught a consumer class, I found out a student could not read. The class required a lot of reading, and the student would constantly throw fits. One day I realized that the fifteen year old student couldn’t read. So I worked with his special educator teacher, who happens to be one of my best friends, to privately teach the student how to read. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.”

Burger’s students appreciate her passion for teaching, as well as her fun-loving nature. Students have even created a petition requesting the cafeteria be named in her honor.

“I will never forget Ms. Burger’s jokes during her pre-calculus lessons everyday. They are never funny, but we always end up laughing.” said Claire Murray ’17.

According to Burger, her contagious energy has always been part of her personality.

“I have always been hyper. When I went through school, the teachers were so boring. They stood at the front of the room and wrote on the chalkboard, and I swore I would never be like that. I want [students] to come to my class, even if they hate math, and still enjoy being in the room.”

As for next year, Burger is looking forward to sleeping in and spending time with family.

“I have grandchildren in Des Moines, Kansas City, and San Diego so I can spend time with them, as much as my children will allow me to. Also, teachers never get to go out to lunch, so now I can do that.”

Burger has some advice for the class of 2015 and beyond.

“Don’t limit yourself. Last week I gave some advice to a girl I was mentoring, who was becoming certified to teach K-3. I told her [to go back] and tell them you want to be certified K-12. Because you don’t know what you want to do in 10 years. Keep your options open, and make as many friends as possible.”