"I graduated from East Burke School in 2008 after studying there from eighth grade through high school. There is no doubt in my mind that those formative years at EBS shaped my perspective of learning, working, and living through a diverse curriculum with ample opportunities to try new things. I suspect that the general attitude at EBS is similar to the atmosphere that existed when I was a student, where the theme for most days was to go beyond your “comfort zone”, challenge yourself and see where it gets you. Often exploring the Kingdom trails, mountain biking or otherwise, or on Burke Mountain I found countless occasions to challenge myself both physically and academically. I’m sure the forest surrounding East Burke is still littered with the bright colored cardboard and parachutes from my model rocketry club. Perhaps the most lasting attribute of my experience at EBS is the sense of ownership the faculty and students created for our community in the form of friendship and academic curiosity. EBS kindled an eagerness to pursue the things I am most passionate about, especially if those endeavors bring me out of my comfort zone, which they have countless times. Lastly, as far as I could tell, most everybody liked each other and I genuinely enjoyed spending the day at school with my friends and teachers.
After EBS I came to Huntsville, Alabama to study aerospace engineering following my passions in aviation and space sciences, but soon found my niche in the Earth System Science program at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I began studying a field known as Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems, a unique program at UAH that combined satellite mapping with climate and environmental challenges. Eager to push the envelope, I enrolled in challenging courses that improved my chances of being selected to work as a student researcher, a position I ultimately received and got to travel to Panama and Guatemala several times to perform real-world climate research. I also continued my studies in German, which originated at EBS, and was working on a dual degree in the sciences and foreign language. I even spent one year as an exchange student in Rostock, Germany on the Baltic where I was first introduced to unmanned aerial systems and airborne mapping for precision agriculture. I now work with a NASA Marshall Space Flight Center project called SERVIR that collaborates with USAID to employ NASA Earth observation imagery to international development and sustainability challenges in developing countries, including rapid response to natural disasters. Additionally, I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Earth System Science researching innovative methods to monitor deforestation and measure carbon storage in tropical forests. I believe the sense of community involvement and the cultivation of curiosity developed during my time at EBS led me towards this path of technical environmental stewardship that I am now pursuing as a career."
-Casey Calamaio, alumni
"At East Burke School, learning doesn’t always happen behind closed doors."
"I started at East Burke School as an 8th grader. I originally decided to go to EBS because I had been homeschooled all my life and it was a smaller school with very individualized learning so it wouldn’t be as hard for me to transition from being home-schooled. I also play hockey, which means that, during the winter, I need to have a flexible schedule. East Burke makes it easy to do that because the school is so small that the teachers have time work with me outside of regular class time.
East Burke School offers a unique learning environment and individualized instruction. I am still in classes with the other students but if I have an idea for a project or I need to make up missed class time because of hockey, I can meet one-on-one with teachers. East Burke School is great for all learning styles because of the personalized attention available.
It’s also lots of fun. At East Burke School, learning doesn’t always happen behind closed doors. We often spend some of our class time outdoors whether it is doing science experiments or just spending time outside reading.
Students are encouraged to voice their opinions and make decisions for themselves. We are given a lot of freedom which is very different than a regular school and that really helps us to learn how to be responsible and manage our time. Students work in smalls groups together and often hang out outside of class. Our community is very supportive of each other."
-Aleta Mathers, Student
"Perhaps the most lasting attribute of my experience at EBS is the sense of ownership the faculty and students created for our community in the form of friendship and academic curiosity."
East Burke School
"As parents we watched her flourish as she settled into this positive learning environment... we were amazed and grateful."
"When deciding which school would be the best fit for our child, we spent months gathering information and discussing her options with her. When shadowing at the different schools she was considering, she felt the most comfortable at East Burke High School. She told us how refreshing it was to be at a school with students who were happy to be there. She really wanted a break from the negative attitudes toward learning that were making her time in larger schools a miserable experience. We respected the thought and time she had put into her decision and put some of our own fears of the unfamiliar and nontraditional aside to allow her this opportunity.
As parents we watched her flourish as she settled into this positive learning environment. We reflected with concern about how shutdown she had gradually become at her previous school without us fully recognizing it, until we saw the contrast at East Burke High School. She has enjoyed pursuing her personal interests with the support of her teachers and advisor there and we have been thrilled with the results.
A few highlights for us have been that she has been able to spend time on her writing projects and library studies which align with her current career choice. At her previous school she had been in advanced math and so East Burke evaluated where she was at and went from there. She had an interest in robotics so they bought kits for the students who wanted to participate and did a unit together. This year she wanted to expand her knowledge in chemistry and geology with a focus on minerals. And although none of the other students wished to join in on this one it didn't limit her at all. The science teacher worked out a curriculum with her and became a personal tutor and mentor for this area of study.
As parents we were amazed and grateful. Our child was getting the benefit of choosing what she wanted to learn like a homeschooler can, but with more socialization and while working with professionals that on our own we wouldn't be able to provide or pay for. I have seen the results of efforts that have been made by the teachers to arrange for dual enrollment in any classes a student wants to take at other schools and colleges as well as schedule accommodations for jobs and other pursuits. This gives us confidence that whatever our child's goals may be, they will come first without being restricted by boundaries and policies. So instead of limitations due to a small school, we have discovered that East Burke High School has the ability to individually enhance our child's education options. We look forward to continuing to see the many opportunities that the unique flexibility of such a personalized education at East Burke High School will provide for our child."
-Julia Tucker, parent