Funkstown principal retiring after 31 years in education

May 11, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE

FUNKSTOWN -- Susan Burger decided at an early age that she wanted to be a teacher.

So it seems fitting that she spent her entire 31-year career as an educator with the youngest students in her hometown school system, Washington County Public Schools.

"I like those little guys," said Burger, who is retiring at the end of this school year.

As a student, Burger attended Lincolnshire Elementary and E. Russell Hicks Middle School. In 1974, she graduated from South Hagerstown High, where she was in the marching band's rifle squad.

She began her career as a second-grade teacher at Sharpsburg Elementary and ends it as principal at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education, a school for prekindergarteners and kindergartners.


Burger, 54, of Hagerstown, said she'll miss the excitement of young children learning new things.

Despite being a principal, Burger continued teaching.

She teaches a math enrichment class for kindergartners who are successful at math and need more challenges.

She also reads to toddlers during a monthly story time at the Funkstown school. The story time isn't just for the Funkstown community, she said.

Burger said she's proudest of putting the interest of the children first when making decisions, and of working hard to get to know each child and encourage them to be the best they can be.

Burger said she's worked hard to get more families involved in school life.

She works with the PTA so the school has fun activities for families, and curriculum nights at which parents can learn how they can help their children with reading and math at home.

The school has held bingo nights for moms, movie nights for dads, and the staff has worked at the McDonald's on Sharpsburg Pike, serving students' families for a PTA fundraiser, according to Burger and Sharon Mattingly, PTA president.

Burger hopes the fun events lead the parents to volunteer at the school and come to curriculum nights.

"She's going to be truly missed by a lot of parents," Mattingly said. "She has a heart of gold for the kids."

Burger said she and her husband, Joe, who is an engineer for Verizon in Washington County, are retiring.

With some humor, she said, "we want to spend time doing things we enjoy doing before we're too ancient."

She expects they will travel, including spending some time at the beach, and that she will stay involved with children in some way.

Burger timeline

1979-81: Second- and third-grade teacher, Sharpsburg Elementary

1981-83: Prekindergarten teacher, Bester Elementary

1983-85: Prekindergarten teacher, Winter Street Elementary

1985-90: Head prekindergarten teacher, Robinwood Early Childhood Center on Hagerstown Junior College campus

1990-98: Prekindergarten teacher, Hickory Elementary

1998-99: Early childhood resource teacher, based at Central Office and working with teachers around the county

1999-2002: First-grade teacher, Old Forge Elementary

2002-03: Judy Center coordinator, Bester Elementary School

2003-10: Principal, Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education

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