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Teaching to Make a Difference

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Keene, Texas » Human connections have the power to shape lives. In 2015, Ella Nguyen Burgos graduated with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Southwestern Adventist University. She is passionate about education and is a teacher at North Dallas Adventist Academy. She helps students just as teachers helped her in high school and college.

“As teachers we must connect with students,” says Burgos. “There’s always a common ground somewhere. Not everyone is Seventh-day Adventist and not everyone is a Christian, but we all come together.”

During high school, Burgos caused a lot of trouble. Still, her teachers always believed in her and never failed to provide quality instruction. Burgos realized how difficult it must be to teach and decided to “pay it forward.” She decided to study elementary education and become a teacher.

Professors at Southwestern, such as Dr. Donna Berkner, provided experience based teaching tools. They prepared students for the academic world, teaching students how to prepare  lesson plans, classroom techniques, and academic laws. Then student teaching gave Burgos first-hand experience. As she expected, Burgos found teaching to be a rewarding challenge.

“There will always be challenges,” says Burgos, “But experience starts in the classroom, as a student teacher. When you are in the classroom, applying the stuff you learned in undergrad, not everything is going to work. You have to find what works.”

During student teaching, Burgos discovered that one of her students had an egg allergy. When Burgos decided to provide cake for class, she handmade a vegan chocolate cake so everyone could enjoy. Impressed with Burgos’ dedication in similar situations, the Southwestern education department professors voted for Burgos to receive the award Student Teacher of the Year.

Encouragement and mentorship came to Burgos from many resources, including scholarships. Burgos received an education department scholarship from the Harder family during her time at Southwestern.

“Because the University encourages friendship between the donors and the scholarship recipients, I was able to get to know the Harder family. They supported me spiritually as well as financially.  After graduation I kept in touch with the Harders and they always let me know they were praying for me.”

At North Dallas Adventist Academy there was a boy in her classroom with the last name Harder.

“Imagine my delight when I discovered I had the Harders’ grandson in my classroom,” said Burgos. “What a privilege! ”

For the 2017-2018 school year, Burgos teaches 6th grade social studies, English, physical education, as well as high school 10th and 11th grade English as a second language, and yearbook. Photography is one of Burgos’ hobbies.

“Photography started out as a way to capture memories for parents to see because they are not with the kids during the entire day,” says Burgos. “But I like doing it especially because you get to capture the sweet moments that you can’t always go back and redo.”

Whether taking pictures, baking vegan cakes, or working hard on new teaching challenges, Burgos always strives to help students succeed and feel at home in the classroom. Burgos is now working on her master’s degree from Southwestern Adventist University and advises all graduates to pursue graduate school.

“My teachers dedicated their time to me and helped me with my work and education, so my goal is to do the same for these kids, no matter what,” says Burgos. 

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