Moore Teacher Write-Ups is a series on local educators highlighting the women and men who are raising our next generation, and to whom we entrust our children every day.
For Pinecrest High School teacher Susie Burns, teaching is a second career.
Before making a mid-course correction, she worked in the dental field for 30 years. She started as a dental hygienist, but problems with her hand forced her into a more administrative role, and a volunteer missionary team led to a life-changing relationship.
“They needed volunteers to help with the missionary’s children, so I worked with 9th-grade girls,” said Burns. “I met this girl named Marsha Woods, who we called Nikki. We became close, and I encouraged her to write a book about her life, and she encouraged me to go to school to become a teacher. She wrote “A Hope and a Future,” and I went back to school to get my degree in teaching.”
After completing her teaching degree, she stayed in the dental field. One day, Charlene Vermeulen, an assistant principal in Moore County Schools, encouraged her to teach Biomed. Biomed covers areas like infectious diseases and pathology and can prepare students for careers in the medical field.
A few years later, Burns had some of her students attend a day program for pharmacy technology called Pharmacy at UNC. This started her on the journey to re-creating Pinecrest’s pharmacy tech program. This required her to become a certified pharmacy technician and design the program. Burns credits “the incredible support of Moore County Schools” in establishing this program.
When students complete the program, they are eligible to sit for the exam to become certified national pharmacy technicians. The school district also pays the fees for the students to take the exam.
Pinecrest teacher Susie Burns and her students who are now certified national pharmacy technicians. Photo provided.
Graduates can either go to work immediately for a pharmacy or continue to college for a wide assortment of advanced medical courses.
The course also prepares students in other ways. The class has rigorous academic requirements, including taking a weekly test of the top 200 medicines each week.
Burns said, “I am pleased to help students go into the health field.”
She recalls a message she received from a student who had gone to college. “I am a college student making $16 an hour, but I am not a starving student since I work in a pharmacy.”
Burns loves developing relationships with her students.
One day, Burns told her class about her daughter being an occupational therapist. This encouraged one of her students to go to college and become one herself.
Burns has been married to her husband, Gary, for 41 years. They have two children, Natalie (the occupational therapist) and Dustin, who graduated from Campbell University and manages a gym.
Asked about what drives her, Burns said, “what drives me is reaching these kids.”
If you have a teacher you would like to nominate to be showcased in this series, please email [email protected].
Feature photo: Pinecrest High School teacher Susie Burns.
~Article and feature photo by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice.