A breath of fresh air

Every once in awhile a person comes into your life and is like a fresh breath of air; even less often is that person a teacher. A teacher who not only teaches what the state requires, but also teaches life lessons. While this situation is a rare occurrence, for 43 girls this has entered our lives, and the 16 seniors in her program would like to take a moment to thank her.

Mrs. Kerri Burgess is the Dance Teacher and Fillies Director at Denton High School. She has had a lustrous career filled with many unique opportunities and many awards. Her greatest achievement though is molding and guiding hundreds of young ladies throughout her career. She is definitely doing what she was destined to as she works with girls and shares with them a love of dance. Mrs. Burgess is amazing at what she does, but her current passion is very different from her hesitant beginning.

“My parents put me in dance classes when I was three, “Burgess said. “The studio I attended offered ballet and tap. My first pair of tap shoes belonged to a neighbor because I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. I still have those shoes and they were my daughter Bailey’s first pair of tap shoes.”

Burgess added jazz to her repertoire around age six. She continued dance through high school and went on to become a part of the Tyler Junior College Apache Belles. It was at this institution that Burgess was inspired to become a teacher.

“What made me want to teach was my college drill team director,” Burgess said. “I liked her style, her grace and her compassion, and I always liked school.”

Burgess began student teaching at DHS in the fall of 1997 and the following school year she became the dance teacher and Fillies Director.

“[What I enjoy about being Fillies Director is] getting to work with such incredible young ladies.”

At the end of the 2006-2007 school year Burgess decided that while she would continue teaching dance at DHS, she would no longer be serving as Fillies Director.

“I had the opportunity to spend a little more time with my family,” Burgess explained.

But after two years the position for Fillies Director became available, and Burgess jumped on the chance.

“[I came back because] Like McDonald’s: I’m loving it! I love the Fillies, it’s in my blood,” Burgess said. “I missed it; it’s a part of me.”

Her return to Fillies elated girls who had worked with her in her dance class.

“Momma B is the most caring and loving person in the world!” President Maddison Carlton said. “Ever since I started dance class my freshman year, I have always looked up to her because she is such an amazing role model! I will miss her very much, but will never forget the huge impact she has made on my life!”

Other girls agreed that Burgess has been an influence in their life since freshman year.

“Mrs. B has been my mentor since freshman year,” Fillie Captain Libby Schleinat said. “I’ve learned so much from her. She’s the most caring, compassionate and selfless person.”

It is very interesting that the same things that Burgess found admirable about her drill team Director are what her girls admire about her. A similar and emphasized quality that they both possess is compassion.

“Mrs. Burgess is the epitome of an empowered woman. She exhibits compassion and modesty, but also leadership and confidence,” Senior Lieutenant Kayla Tunnell said. “She treats all of her students as her own children. I’ve been lucky to have her as a director and role model.”

Burgess tirelessly works with the Fillies, when asked what her favorite thing about Fillies was this is how she replied.

“My favorite thing about Fillies is that there is a bond, a sisterhood that is stronger that just sharing the love of dance,” Burgess said.

The sisterhood that was created among the seniors is comprised of 1st year senior Fillies all the way to 3rd year senior Fillies, but no matter how long they have been a Fillie they have one thing in common, they love Mrs. Burgess.

“Mrs. B is very caring. She’s always concerned about us as individuals,” Gladys Moreno said.

Her fellow 1st year senior Fillies Morgan deLuna agrees with her.

“I like Mrs. B because she’s helped me through a lot of my problems,” deLuna said. “And while some teachers say you can talk to them, she really means it and she listens.”

Some of her girls love her so much that they couldn’t really pick just one thing to talk about.

“My favorite memories come from being able to be her aide everyday and I love seeing her face light up after I finish re-cleaning the closet,” Dani Walter said. “Mrs. Burgess is a truly inspiring person. She is understanding and loving to every student she has. I love her so very much and I feel honored to have been a part of her team this year.”

Silly little things can be important, which is something that Senior Lieutenant Karen Nguyen said, along with being unable to pin point what she loved about Mrs. B.

“I love everything!” Nguyen said. “She’s super sweet. She tolerates my immaturity and allows me to poke her on the shoulder.”

The DHS Fillies have definitely been spoiled with such an amazing director, and the girls are completely aware and appreciative. It was so easy for them to speak so fondly of their director, and it was easy for her speak fondly of the only school she has worked at full-time.

“I love the pride of being a Bronco,” Burgess said. “I love the Bronco family that consists of both faculty and students.”

Burgess shows her entire DHS family love and her girls have taken note.

“I think that she is compassionate to everyone,” En Croix Chaplain Ashley Wawro said. “She handles everything very well. She is ladylike at all times.”

Burgess’s pride for DHS as well as her organization is not only apparent, but it attracts girls to Fillies.

“Mrs. Burgess is the most phenomenal person ever; she is such an inspiration to me. I love her with all my heart,” Vice President Jessica Leyva said. “One thing that made me want to be a Fillie was her talking so fondly about the team. I probably could not have made it without her; she has been here through the good and the bad and has guided me through all of my obstacles. She has made a group of girls become a family and I am glad to be able to be a part of this wonderful group.”

The group is certainly wonderful and it is due to their director who has such a great passion for dance.

“[My favorite thing about dance is] getting to express yourself through movement,” Burgess said.

The way that she expresses herself through movement is something that her girls enjoy.

“I like how she dances and how she is so nice and sweet,” Treasurer Bianca Picazo. “She cares about you a lot. I like how she’s always there for you; she gives you hugs and food when you need it.”

Burgess teaches more than dance when she is at work; she teaches her girls life lessons.

“Mrs. B is absolutely amazing. She has taught me so many things that I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” Historian Lyssa Jackson said. “Plus one day I hope to be just like her because she is such an inspiration.”

Most of the life lessons that she teaches do not come from her telling her girls how to act, but her showing them with her actions.

“Mrs. B is pretty much amazing! She’s always there when you need her; no matter what it is,” Brianda Diaz said. “She is and always will be my role model. She helped me realize that no matter how much I have on my plate I can succeed in anything that I set my mind to. She’s one of the people that I’ll always look up to and that I’ll never forget.”

The feeling that comes from Burgess’s love is felt all throughout the organization from each and every Fillie and all the way to the manager.

“Mrs. B is an absolutely amazing, extremely compassionate, and unconditionally loving leader who would never tear her girls down. She has created an atmosphere that is so warm and welcoming,” Fillie Manager said. “Mrs. B gives her all to Fillies and expects nothing less from her girls, and because her dedication is so inspiring her girls are eager to give her their best.”

Burgess’s work is definitely extraordinary; when asked what keeps her going she said simply with a smile, “What keeps me going are the smiles on my girls’ faces.”