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Dr. Jan Gunnels Burcham, Columbus State University professor of early childhood education, was recently recognized nationally as the 2017 Outstanding Early Childhood Teacher Educator. Presented by the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators at the organization’s annual conference, the honor is awarded to a teacher educator who exhibits leadership, professionalism, self-reflective practices and mentoring.
“I’m very appreciative and thankful of this opportunity,” said Burcham. “It isn’t just for me, it is also for all of the people who have collaborated with me along the way.”
Consideration for the award is based on peer-nomination. Pamela Wetherington, one of Burcham’s former students and graduate assistants, was among three educators who nominated Burcham. Wetherington now works alongside Burcham as an assistant department chair in teacher education at CSU.
“In my opinion one of Dr. Burcham’s strongest assets is her mentorship of students, faculty, and colleagues,” says Wetherington. “Frequently, I would reach out to her to reflect on the effects of teaching decisions and practices. She was always eager to listen and provide feedback.”
Dr. N. Amanda Branscombe of Athens State Universty and Dr. Frances Rust of New York University also nominated Burcham.
“It was a big surprise,” said Burcham. “It meant a lot to me that colleagues thought enough about me and what I’ve done in my career to nominate me.”
Burcham has been an educator in early childhood and higher education for more than 30 years, 14 of which were at CSU. Among her accomplishments include co-authoring two books, publishing multiple research articles, participating internationally in a collaborative effort to develop a curriculum for preschool children in China, and presenting at the Oxford Round Table on Early Childhood Education in Oxford England. She has served on the governing board for the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators and a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Educators. She is currently the Interim Associate Dean for Curriculum and Faculty Development and Fletcher Distinguished Chair in Teacher Education at CSU.
“I have been fortunate throughout my career to have opportunities to influence the field and improve teaching and learning of young children, both here and internationally,” said Burcham. “I’m very thankful for all of these opportunities.”