Burgess to have new smart beginning

Published 9:13 am Saturday, August 1, 2009

FRANKLIN—Connie Burgess is headed back to class.

The director of Smart Beginnings Western Tidewater will resume her long teaching career on Aug. 24, when she starts teaching at Riverdale Elementary School.

“I am really tickled to be returning,” Burgess said Friday. “I’m kind of returning to my passion.”

Burgess said she didn’t know what class she would be teaching at Riverdale, but said it would be in the elementary age group, which comprises kindergarten through the fifth grade.

Several children at Riverdale already know Burgess; from 1996 until February 2008, she taught kindergarten at Hunterdale Elementary School, which closed last fall and was replaced by Riverdale. She was also awarded Teacher of the Year honors at Hunterdale in 2001.

“I’ve been so excited about the work that Smart Beginnings has been doing,” Burgess said. “It’s been a real privilege for me to have worked with the scope and the level of expertise that I’ve encountered in this job. But I really miss the children. I just kind of felt the tug to return to that atmosphere.”

Before her tenure at Hunterdale, Burgess worked for 12 years as a pre-kindergarten director and teacher at Southampton Academy. She also worked as a child care supervisor at the Gingerbread House Day Care Center in Franklin and was as a library media aide at Courtland Elementary School.

Burgess said she announced that she was leaving Smart Beginnings in June, and that the organization was in the process of finding her replacement. Her last day at Smart Beginnings, a coalition of 67 members in public and private business, government officials, local school systems, early care and education providers, parents and community partners, will be Aug. 21.

“My experience here has been wonderful,” Burgess said. “There’s a lot of good work being done here and I know it’s going to continue.”

She added, “I feel that we’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve come a long way here with promoting early care in education in the area. It’s so important that we meet the needs of our youngest citizens.

“That is where our future is. The early start they receive will help get the economy working and will make our whole region prosper.”