GSHS Teacher of the Month

Emily Nilsson

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    English, Social Studies, and Journalism teacher Maya Burns has taught many students here at Glenwood Springs High School (GSHS) countless valuable life and academic lessons. Being a teacher and a friend to students is one of Burns’ most substantial strengths, and it heavily influences the students around her.

    Burns grew up in a small town in Massachusetts with a younger brother, attending local public schools for. She recalls, “I had a really great experience in school growing up.” She grew up working with kids as a babysitter and camp counselor, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to be either a teacher or a social worker.

    Burns decided that the University of Michigan was the best fit for her, as she wanted diversity, and to be out of New England. During college, she studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, which was an extremely formative experience for her, expanding he global awareness and desire to explore the world.

     After graduation, Burns went to New York City to complete a Teaching Fellowship while completing her Masters Degree. Her first job was teaching 6th grade, at a low-income, inner city school. Burns still misses the kids she taught there and feels it was a wonderful experience for her. After teaching there for three years, Burns quit her job in order to expand her life experiences. “I had always wanted to travel and be a ski bum,” jokes Burns.

    Burns spent two years alternating between travelling in the summer and fall and teaching skiing in the winter. The first of Burns’ expeditions included backpacking through Southeast Asia and India alone for four months. That winter, Burns took a ski instructing job at Snowmass Mountain in Aspen, Colorado. After spending the winter teaching skiing, Burns decided to take another trip, this one to South America. This trip proved more difficult due to language barriers, however, it was no less enjoyable or memorable. Upon arriving back to Colorado, Burns taught ski lessons again, but soon decided to return to public school teaching.

    Burns knew she loved working with kids, and had a passion for teaching that led her to find a job at GSHS. In her sixth year as a full time teacher, Burns absolutely loves what she does and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

    “Teaching…is the only job where I don’t get bored,” said Burns.

    She loves being able to interact with students and says, “My ultimate goal as a teacher is to help students find their passion and be able to pursue it.”

    Her students love her as well, with Junior Courtney Hassell stating, “Maya is one of the very few teachers that I have had who I feel cares about me as a person and not just as a student. She makes sure everybody understands what’s happening while also making it fun.”

    Burns gets to explore her love of travelling as the advisor to the school travel club. She chaperones trips all over the world. Hassell is one of the students who frequently goes on these trips with Burns, and she loves them. Hassell loves travelling with Burns, and has many fond memories of the trips they’ve been on together, including Burns recording Hassell shoving fried potato balls in her mouth. This June, Burns will be taking students on a trip to Thailand.

    Burns has many other hobbies which she explores when she isn’t teaching; and is quite good at many other things. According to GSHS Special Education teacher and close friend Brittany Spangler, “She does like to cook a lot… Every time I’m over at her house she’s cooking something different.”

    She is also partial to outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. Last summer, Burns and Spangler went camping in the Grand Tetons, and Spangler remembers them arriving without a plan of where to spend the night, ultimately sharing a small campsite with a kind elderly couple, with no difficulties or complaints from anyone. Their trip consisted of many hikes, many days camping, and a road trip that was unforgettable.

    In addition to her talent for cooking and love for the outdoors, “She is a Harry Potter fanatic and loves trying different desserts,” according to Hassell. Burns would also love to play quidditch if an opportunity arose.

    Burns has always been an adventurous person, and teaching has helped her spread her wisdom and knowledge to those who need it the most. Her wonderful teaching style and the relationships she develops with her students are what make Burns an incredible teacher and asset here at GSHS. This summer, however, Burns and her boyfriend will sadly leave the valley for new adventures in Portland, Maine, relocating closer to her family.

 

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