By Jay Miller, [email protected]

Teacher and Choral Director Jean Burkhart celebrates 20 years of teaching at Seymour High School (The Herald/ Jay Miller)

Teacher and Choral Director Jean Burkhart celebrates 20 years of teaching at Seymour High School (The Herald/ Jay Miller)

As of this year, Jean Burkhart has been a teacher and choral director at Seymour High School for 20 years.

Burkhart is credited with starting the choral program at the school and has seen it evolve over the past 20 years.

“Any time you try to start something new it is difficult,” Burkhart said. “You are always met with resistance to change or resistance to new ideas. In truth, the students were so excited.”

Since the inception of the program, there have been three scholarships offered through the music department.

One of the most impressive accomplishments of her career has been that, as of this year, the program has generated over one million dollars in scholarships for students, accumulating $82,000 this year alone.

In 2013-2014, the choral program participated in the Veterans Day Program, the Christmas Program, and the annual musical, and will sing at graduation. They also hosted Seymour’s Got Talent and Battle of the Bands, among other things.

“So it’s a busy year,” Burkhart said.

Burkhart believes teaching is a calling. She feels you have to have desire to serve and help people.

“I can describe teaching from the viewpoint of a parent,” Burkhart said. “When you see that all encompassing smile on your child’s face, there is nothing quite like that. I get that same feeling seeing a student doing what they enjoy up on stage.”

For her efforts, Burkhart was granted the Colonel Aide De Camp award from the state of Tennessee for outstanding achievement at the request of Senator Doug Overbey. She also received a letter of recognition from U.S. Congressman Phil Roe.

The award has recently earned her the nickname “The Colonel” among some of those close to her.

“I am truly touched and humbled by it,” Burkhart said. “Now I say there is a Colonel Sanders of the Chicken and I am Colonel Burkhart of the hams.”

For her twentieth year celebration there was a surprise reception for her after the musical. The Choral Booster Club, parents and students combined their efforts to organize a celebration. The celebration included current and former students, as well as a surprise visit from her two sons who she thought were out of town.

“I was humbled that so many people would take their time and be so caring and kind,” Burkhart said. “It will be one of the highlights of my life.”

One Comment

  1. austin muckinhaupt says:

    I don’t know who this “Jay Miller” (surely a pseudonym) is but goodness gracious does he/she have lovely prose.

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