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Cassidy Titchenell

Tasche Bryant
Writing 104
December 1, 2016
19 Students and Counting
Youre not leaving until that [assignment] is done. You hear me? You will not leave because you
can do it- You are smart, you can do it.

A classroom of 22 energetic faces whip around to stare as an abrupt interruption enters their
work time. Muffled whispers attempt to determine the identity of the stranger hesitantly lingering
in their doorway. Embracing my appearance, Mrs. McBurney does what she does best- quiets her
classroom of 19 youthful students on a Friday afternoon while getting them back on track in
attempt to complete the Ancient Egypt assignment at hand.

Cheryle McBurney, 61, of Pawtucket, RI, is a


sixth grade teacher at Francis J. Varieur
Elementary School located in Pawtucket. Born
in a Catholic household in Worcester,
Massachusetts and raised in surrounding areas
until the age of four when she, along with her
three sisters, moved to Pawtucket, is currently
a mother of seven and a grandmother to six.

Until her third child was born, Mrs. McBurney worked as a ninth grade Algebra I teacher at
Samuel Slater Middle School in Pawtucket. After another four children were birthed and raised

to schooling age, she began her work as a sixth grade elementary school teacher at Varieur.
According to the Employees Retirement System of Rhode Island, with the average age of
retirement set between ages 59-63, most teachers have quit their service due to age and the newly
implemented retirement security plan in RI. However, this teacher is one who stays so that she
can use a strong sense of perspective and encouragement, along with lessons derived from
personal experiences to guide her students towards success at Varieur.

At the ages of 11 to 12, students in the sixth grade are at a peaked time for puberty. Impacting
their emotional and physical states, puberty can be a confusing period for adolescents due to an
increase in hormones and social pressures. Aside from natural components, home or social life
may begin becoming a detrimental factor in the lives of students as they approach teenhood,
accepting more responsibility and deepening their mentalities. Considering the transition period
students are currently at, Mrs. McBurney remains mindful to others as she never knows the
extent of what a student may be enduring at home. She notes that, ...a negative response
targeted towards me [in class] may not be because of what just happened, it might just be
because of the day before, of what happened at home. She stresses the importance of
understanding what a child may be carrying in their lives upon approaching each situation.

A fear for her students is that the harsh cruelties of society will disrupt their lives. Glancing
around at the backs of the heads of a classroom filled with innocence, Mrs. McBurney lays silent
for a moment when asked what her fear for her students is-- The world isnt safe for them. I
worry about them getting in with the unsuitable crowd and getting in trouble. In preparation for
her students futures, Mrs. McBurney tries to engrain that getting in with the wrong type of
people can result in negative decisions and major consequences later on in life. Despite worrying

about certain gaggles of adolescents having an unpleasant impact on the students lives, Mrs.
McBurney claims, All kids are good, I believe that they just make bad choices because they do
not know what to do at times. Considering that not everyone is as fortunate to have proper
guidance as others, Mrs. McBurney finds it important to encourage children in becoming better
people, as well as improved learners.

In addition to worrying that her students will make the wrong decisions, she also is troubled with
the reality that other educators will not take them under their wings the way she has done. As a
teacher who actually cares for her students, it is evident that she puts forth her prime assets each
day in a persistent effort to motivate and educate others. McBurneys youngest daughter,
MacKenzie, law student at Roger Williams University, declares, When she comes home from
school at night I can tell that she has put her whole energy into the school day, and that she
carries home with her the concerns and joys of her students, just as she would one of her own
children. And for this very reason, of continual exertion, the unpredictable fate of her students
education worries her. As the last teacher that students have before being mainly on their own
throughout their educational careers, Mrs. McBurney tries to prepare her students for the
beckoning independent stricken world. Knowing that students may not receive the same support
she has given throughout their time together, Mrs. McBurneys students already, at the end of
November, have it instilled in their minds to constantly push themselves.

Despite her love for teaching, it was not always Mrs. McBurneys aspiring profession. As a
senior at the top of her class at William E. Tolman High School in Pawtucket, Mrs. McBurney
longed to become a pediatrician, however, was shot down by her guidance counselor, who,
during an era drastically different for women than today, questioned if she would like to become

a mother and have a family one day--because if she did, she had to become a teacher or a nurse.
Wishing to become a mother in the future, Mrs. McBurney endured the route of pursuing a
career in education at Rhode Island College (RIC), where she earned up to a Masters in
Education, along with a math degree. Throughout her experiences at RIC, Mrs. McBurney
worked at the State House, meeting and marrying her husband along the way.

If it were not for her guidance counselor, who had believed he was giving her prime advice, Mrs.
McBurney never would have become the teacher or mother she is today. Her journey in
education never would have occurred, preventing her work at the State House, in turn, ultimately
prohibiting her from meeting/marrying her husband and mothering her children. Being talked out
of her desired career lead to a current advocacy in making sure that girls, her daughters in
specific, are never convinced otherwise of something due to their gender. She stresses the
importance of ...doing what they want to do, rather than permitting restriction from others.
While she does not agree with the advice given to her as a teenager, Mrs. McBurney refuses to
regret a single major decision made in life.

Similar to how she lives her life, Mrs.McBurneys students state that she reminds them to ...take
things that happen and try to deal with them. Rather than dwell on the past, it is crucial for her
students to focus on their futures, on what they have yet to complete. Setting goals, such as a
certain number of Accelerated Reader points or number of hours on IXL (a math website) each
month, allows students to strive for prosperity. Proudly pointing towards their classroom goals, a
student informs me that Mrs. McBurneys set standards often motivates her to set forth her best
effort in an attempt to excel in everything that she does.

According to her current, and quite eager students, Mrs. McBurney is caring, positive and
enthusiastic. While all of this may be true, some may argue that she is also much more. Her
persuasive teaching tactics make learning enjoyable for students- engaging them in each topic,
deepening their understanding- suggests a sense of ambition. Her confidence within each child,
in their educations and personalities, builds a co-dependent relationship that both parties heavily
rely on for guidance, suggests a sense of affability. Her drive for education to not only teach
students numerous topics, but make them enjoy and understand it, suggests a sense of diligence
and tenacity.

Often, educators are viewed as people who students connect with for a year and later become a
foggy memory come August of the upcoming school year; yet Mrs. McBurney is a teacher to
remember. Her perpetual passion for teaching, energy and humility remain with students through
cherishable life lessons. Implementing the belief that education is the key to success, Mrs.
McBurney sends her students off to middle school hoping that they are able to continue their
developed work ethics. Once her class of 19 students graduates in June 2017, there will be plenty
more students awaiting the knowledgeable guidance of Mrs. Cheryle McBurney.

Cassidy Titchenell
Tasche Bryant
Writing 104
December 1, 2016
Works Cited

The Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011 (RIRSA) and 2015 Settlement Agreement.
State of Rhode Island Employees Retirement System of Rhode Island- Office of General
Treasurer,
http://content.ersri.org/pension-settlement-information-2015/#gsc.tab=0
Accessed 1 December 2016.