Photo by Diana Percy
Junior Owen Burrows and Mr. Burrows spend a big portion of their days together. They ride to and from school together in their Ford, eat first lunch together and spend two hours of the day in Mr. Burrows’ classroom – one taught by Burrows and the other by Owen.
Becoming a math teacher has been Owen’s plan for a while now – he’s always been surrounded by teachers. A big part of his decision to become a teacher is his dad’s obvious enjoyment of his job and the positive influence he has on kids. Afterall, his dad’s classroom isn’t covered in stereotypical motivational posters and formulas, but instead it’s encircled by T-shirts reading “Burrows’ Army” and his students’ artwork. Owen finds it “really cool” to see kids come back from college to visit his dad and talk about their lives.
“You can have a good influence on kids while they’re still young,” Owen said. “They might not be old enough where they’ve sort of made more decisions about their life.”
Owen and his three siblings were all homeschooled through eighth grade by their mom, a daycare teacher and Mr. Burrows. Owen was exposed to his parents’ teaching jobs early on.
“They see how [my wife and I] live and they like it,” Mr. Burrows said. “We spend a lot of time as a family and I think he sees that as if he is a teacher he can be close to his family in a similar way. I guess that would be my contribution to it – I didn’t push [his kids] in any direction.”
Owen currently cadet teaches in Mr. Burrows’ fifth hour geometry class, which is his first step towards becoming a teacher. When Mr. Burrows is busy answering questions, students approach Owen instead.
Mr. Burrows and Owen are both described by junior Zach Krause as “the kind of guys you go to for help.” Whether it be math or outside problems, the two are easy to talk to, he said.
Mr. Burrows’s classroom is rarely quiet – and never empty. Mr. Burrows’ students rarely raise their hands. Instead, they immediately voice their confusion. Burrows said he prefers his class to be a conversation, and Owen hopes to adopt the same ideas in his own classroom someday – most likely fourth or fifth grade.
“He is awesome with his little brothers and their friends,” Mr. Burrows said. “I could see him working with kids. He’s understanding and caring and he’s insightful – intelligent, I think he’s going to be a great teacher.”
Owen wants to become a teacher because he just likes helping people, he said – and Mr. Burrows teaches for similar reasons.
“I like working with students,” Mr. Burrows said. “You get a sense of helping people attain their goals — some people have very lofty goals, and if you can help them reach their goals — it’s kind of satisfying.”
Besides his interest in the teaching profession, Mr. Burrows recognizes a lot of himself in Owen.
“My wife and I can definitely see each of us in each of [our kids],” Mr. Burrows said. “But breaking it down – the way in which [Owen and I] think is the biggest similarity.”
Although Owen has always been naturally gifted in math, he has struggled on tests in AP Calculus BC, where his dad is the teacher – but it’s “not awkward at all,” at least for Mr. Burrows.
Owen is more embarrassed when he receives a bad grade from his dad than he is with any other teacher – he has such a good resource at his own home.
“I know when he should be studying,” Mr. Burrows said. “I know what’s coming up and well, he’s a teenager so occasionally I have to remind him.”
Mr. Burrows is a widely-loved teacher – students and past students like Krause admire him and appreciate his teaching abilities.
“I just see him in his room with his students, and I can tell he really cares about it,” Owen said. “It’s not like he ever sat us down and said, ‘You guys are going to be teachers.’”