By Dianna ShawMuch like the student body, the faculty of UHCL represents its own body of diverse people from mixed backgrounds. These professors offer vast amounts of information to their students pertaining to their curriculum while offering real-life experiences. Despite the appreciation of the university’s full-time faculty, The Signal would like to spotlight those educators who teach in addition to holding down full-time-jobs – the adjunct professors. The Signal will be profiling an adjunct professor from each school to be acknowledged for their dedication to education as well as the real-world experiences they bring to the university. This is part three of a four-part series.
“Upon first glance he can be an imposing figure – 6 foot plus, bald head, piercing eyes,” said Education Management student Nefertari Mundy. “But once you make it past the exterior and begin to absorb the knowedge he is imparting your focus shifts. He’s extremely engaging, has a sharp wit, but above all he’s honest, approachable and accessible.”
Heath Burns, off-campus adjunct professor for the School of Education, University of Houston-Clear Lake at Angleton, is also the superintendent for Angleton Independent School District. He teaches the Education Management program, which leads to a master of science with principal certification.
“There are many things that I’ve learned over the 18 months that I’ve taken classes from Dr. Burns,” Mundy said. “One of the golden nuggets that stays with me is every action we take as administrators must be purposeful and deliberate – nothing should happen by accident. Be prepared for everything and leave nothing to chance.”
Burns earned a B.S. in communication and a master’s degree in education in school administration from Lamar University. He then earned a doctorate in education from Sam Houston State University.
Prior to his current appointment, Burns worked three years as a principal in the Livingston Independent School District. He has also served as principal at Assumption Catholic School in Beaumont. In addition to teaching at UHCL, Burns has also taught at Sam Houston State University, Tomball and Port Neches-Groves Independent School Districts.
“I bring a wealth of experience to the classroom,” Burns said. “This experience helps me to train new administrators to meet the challenges they will face in the field.”
Balancing his busy career with family life is tricky, as Burns is a husband and father of two sets of twins.
“I do not sleep much, never have,” Burns said. “I work late and from home so I can spend quality time with my family.”
Those who know him as a teacher and superintendent claim that Burns is dedicated to excellence and strives to do his best by each student whether they are his classroom students or students at AISD.
“He runs his school the same way he conducts class, with unlimited energy and passion for doing what is right by children,” said Katie Laza, a former student of Burns. “It’s very inspiring to work in a district that keeps kids first.”
Burns explains why education is his passion.
“I was drawn to education as a way to serve children,” Burns said. “On a selfish note, by teaching, I am able to identify, develop and hire the brightest students.”
In the classroom, Burns teaches real-life situations in order to prepare his students for the challenges they will face.
“He forces students to make hard decisions and explore all outcomes of those decisions,” Laza said. “Vigorous debate and discussion are a regular part of his class.”
Mundy concurs with Laza’s assessment of Burns’ quality teaching abilities and his passion for students.
“Knowledgeable doesn’t even begin to describe the breadth of information Dr. Burns is skilled in relaying,” says Mundy. “His insight and understanding of school law, finance and topics that most people would consider drudgery are tackled with zeal and you walk away with more than entry level knowledge and a desire to apply the skills beyond the classroom.”
Burns is also one to stay on top of the changes in education. Technology has incurred the biggest shift in the way in which students are educated.
“The growth of technology has and will continue to change the face of education,” Burns said. “The traditional brick and mortar school house is becoming a thing of the past. In the future, students may receive all of their training through the internet, perhaps from home.”