“It was a surprise to me,” Burrage said. “I had no idea I was being considered for the award.”
Burrage, an employee at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind for more than 21 years, teaches an average of 45 sophomore and junior students a day at ASB.
“They really seem to enjoy my class because I don’t always teach out of the textbook,” Burrage said. “I get to talk to them about real-life situations like paying bills, renting a house, buying a house, building a house, opening a checking account, going to the bank and other life skills. It’s interesting to them — it’s not boring stuff that they have to memorize. They’re able to come into class and talk about work and types of jobs they would like to do.”
A former Talladega Chamber of Commerce president, Burrage stated she plays an active role within the community by organizing AIDB’s annual fundraising 5K, the Redskin Run. She also escorted students and coaches on a trip to run in the 2013 Mercedes Marathon, an event held annually in Birmingham.
“That was a big accomplishment for us to be able to take visually-impaired kids to participate in the event,” Burrage said.
During the summer, Burrage works closely with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation through the school’s summer work program to help students seek employment.
“This summer, we had 27 students involved with the summer work program employed throughout the state in different career paths they were interested in,” Burrage said. “When the program started in 2004, we only had four students participate. The program has really grown that much in its nine-year existence. Of the 27 students, four have been gainfully employed after participating in the program.”
Burrage also assists students interested in furthering their education.
“It’s great to see our students who are attending college come back,” Burrage said. “We love to see our students graduate, get jobs and start families. I know what I’ve taught them has helped them be successful at life.”
During the course of her career, Burrage adapted to the challenges that come with interacting with impaired students. She received her certifications in Braille and Intermediate American Sign Language.
“Teaching has gotten easier for me, but it’s still fun,” Burrage said. “I try to teach all of my students to find a job or career that they’ll enjoy.”
Contact Shane Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org