Voices of Courage: Dr. Tom Burnham

We’ve been fortunate on the Courage in the Classroom tour to have a number of state-level leaders join us along the way. On Thursday the state education commissioner of Arkansas, Dr. Tom Kimbrell, and the state superintendent in Louisiana, Paul Pastorek, both hopped on the bus and joined us at the day’s events. On Friday we welcomed aboard Dr. Tom Burnham, Mississippi’s superintendent of education, for stops in Jackson and Hattiesburg.

“I believe very strongly as educational leaders that one of our challenges is to stay connected with the teachers, and stay connected with the classrooms,” he said of the tour’s value.

Dr. Burnham assumed his position in January. It’s his second tour of duty as head of Mississippi’s K-12 public education system. In between stints he has served as the dean of the School of Education at the University of Mississippi and as a district superintendent in Biloxi, Miss., and in Henderson County, N.C. He began his career as a classroom teacher and coach.

Mississippi teachers, he said, “are working each day with a great deal of passion, they’re working each day with a great deal of professionalism, and in most cases a pretty significant level of preparation to be successful”—but, all too often, inadequate resources.

“At the end of the day, each day, many of these people go home very, very tired from having attempted to achieve success,” he said.

Here’s video of our conversation with Dr. Burnham aboard the bus:


Click here for an accessible version of the video.