Martha Burke takes flight

Posted by mburke - 14 February, 2013

There is an endless sense of possibility when it comes to working with students.

My work with students is often about guiding them to better understand who they are by listening and helping them find the words to describe themselves.

The beauty of it is that there is no endpoint, it’s a lifelong process. Helping each student recognize his or her potential makes being a school counselor at Randolph an exceptionally meaningful job.

Through countless conversations, I have realized that the only way to live is with an open mind, where you live in the present and seize opportunities. If I hadn’t come to realize this, I might not be here.

I had just started working at an independent school in Florida and was making my first trip home for home-cooked meals, quality time with family, and much needed rest. On my home, I found myself in conversation with a man who, eight months later, would ask me to marry him. Who knew a plane ride could have such a tremendous impact on my life? The conversation that sparked between us in row 20 is one that continues every day.

As we planned the next chapter of our lives, Chris spotted opening at Randolph and the next thing I knew I was in Huntsville, Alabama interviewing for the position.

Driving to the campus, the beauty was all-encompassing. There was farmland with cows grazing right by the school. Everyone I met was friendly and excited for me to experience Randolph through the course of a day. There was a buzz, an energy that I immediately felt and was attracted to at Randolph. I called Chris and surprised myself saying, “this really might be the place for me.” I even got to watch the Senior Art Expo, which is a multimedia performance of music, dance and visual art in which more than half the class takes part.

The school is much more than the beautiful buildings. It is a community of people dedicated to lifelong learning and developing resilient students with strong character.

I interviewed at other independent schools in Memphis and Atlanta, but ultimately, Randolph was the right fit.

Sometimes, you just know...

In July 2012, Chris and I were married, moved to Huntsville and started our new jobs. He works at UAH in admissions and while I serve as the 7-12th grade school counselor at Randolph. I also teach 9th graders health curriculum and coach. In the fall, I coached cross-country and this spring I’m coaching softball. The best part of my job is getting to hang out with students every day.

Students drop by my office throughout the day for a Lifesaver and a quick chat or to schedule an appointment to talk about a more serious topic like “What in the world do I want to do with my life?” or “Who am I?” I enjoy interacting with students of all ages in various stages of their growth and development. It makes me appreciate each stage even more.

After spending the majority of my day at school, Chris and I have great fun exploring the city of Huntsville and all it has to offer. We like to eat downtown at Sam and Greg’s and then go to a Charger hockey game at the Von Braun Center or listen to music. We go hiking and running at Monte Sano State Park where it feels like you are far away from a city. There are countless other adventures waiting to be explored.

This is true at Randolph, too.

You can read an interview with Ms. Burke in Raider's Digest, the Upper School news site.

Topics: 7th grade, 8th grade, Academics, Arts, Athletics, character, community, cross-country, softball, teachers, Upper School


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