RECTOR, AR (KAIT) - With the end of school only a few weeks a way it will also bring down the curtain on a 40 year career for April's Teacher of the Year from Rector.
It will be tough to find an understudy for Rector High School's Drama, Speech and Gifted and Talented Program Director Gail Burns.
Senior Ashley Williams told me, "You can talk to her about just about anything and that takes someone with a lot of heart to be able to do."
Unlike many schools, Rector doesn't have a theater. While Gail was showing me the home-made stage in the cafeteria, you could hear the mid-day meal being prepared.
Mrs. Burns didn't start out in teaching in High School or even as a drama teacher.
Burns, "I was in Speech Pathology so I saw students from Kindergarten to 12th grade. And I still do in my Theater productions."
Even though she primarily was an elementary teacher, looking around her room in the High School you can tell she has a long history with student plays. Mrs. Burns wears a lot of hats at school and she loves to see all her students succeed at something.
Burns, "I love to see success. And I love to see a student embrace a talent maybe they didn't know they had or an area in which they were not familiar with it before and become excited about it. "
Matt Hanson is studying speech under Mrs. Burns, even though this is his first time as her pupil he already places her high in admiration.
"She's going to come in here teach us make sure we learn it. Then go home and have the satisfaction that we know how to give a proper speech. " Hanson said.
Burns said she always wanted to be a teacher, she always respected who they were. It was a natural choice for her. "Being able to teach and being able to help people learn was an exciting field."
Sophomore Sydney Simmons said Burns has really made great strides in her personal education.
Simmons, "It's not just teaching me drama. It's not just teaching me theater. It's teaching me life skills in general."
Mrs. Burns says after retirement she will keep being involved in the community and working through her bucket list.
"I think I've got several more good years left in me to do something exciting." She said with a grin; "And I'm looking forward to the next chapter."
Mrs. Burns says it will be hard to leave her students in someone else's care. I asked her what one thing she would like to her successor to know.
She looked fondly around the home-made stage and hand painted canvas back drops.
Burns, "Don't concentrate on what you don't have, think about what you do and continue to aspire for the best and never settle for anything less than that."