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Traci Burt shows love through learning, literature

Ryan English teacher Traci Burt jokes with students
Inspiring a generation of young people who are tied to electronic devices to love reading classic books is a daunting task for anyone, yet it’s a task that Denton ISD’s Secondary Teacher of the Year takes on with great gusto. Then again, Traci Burt gathers great pride in anything that involves reading or literature.

Mrs. Burt, the daughter of a retired public school superintendent, is an English/Language Arts teacher at Ryan High School. She always finds excitement in the challenge, and the irony in life, that she teaches about life’s greatest ironies through literature.

“When I openly display my unadulterated excitement for a lesson, they reciprocate by participating without reserve in a discussion of it,” said Mrs. Burt. “I get tickled when a student says, ‘I was going to skip fifth block today, but I stayed for your lesson on transcendentalists; you seemed so excited about that Emerson guy.’”

Getting a 17-year-old interested in Ralph Waldo Emerson may seem like a daunting task, but it’s a common occurrence for students in Mrs. Burt’s class. The walls of her classroom are covered with inspirational quotes, bright posters and newspaper clippings featuring her students. It’s an environment she’s created to inspire thinking and creativity.

The tactic has worked, as Mrs. Burt’s class is one of the most popular at Ryan High and she’s one of many former students favorite teachers.

“When you visit [Mrs. Burt's] classroom, it's impossible not to experience the absolute joy she has for learning and the love she has for our students.”

The district annually recognizes 10 students from each of its comprehensive high schools, allowing them to choose the most influential teacher they’ve had during their educational career to celebrate at the event. Mrs. Burt has been Ryan students’ chosen teacher more times than anyone else over the past decade.

“I just love watching Mrs. Burt teach,” said Vernon Reeves, principal of Ryan. “When you visit her classroom, it’s impossible not to experience the absolute joy she has for learning and the love she has for our students.”

Back in the classroom, Mrs. Burt laughingly holds up the front page of The Raider Review, Ryan’s student newspaper, and points out that a student has drawn angel wings on her front page photo. A student has left a note reminding her to put up the clipping about her honor on the bulletin board alongside accolades about her students.

“Rewards aside, in all honesty, I teach for a somewhat selfish reason,” she explained. “I love literature. As a proudly self-proclaimed book nerd, I can think of no other career that exists for me to revel in my passion for reading like teaching.”