CHS Welcomes New Teacher- James Burcham

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Jared Arenas, Quality Control & Head Editor

Much like every year Centennial High School has undergone in recent times, there have been significant changes in the staff. The summer break, which acted as an interlude between the conclusion for the era of Zoom teaching and the current school year where things are slowly but surely returning to normalcy, gave the school an opportunity to adjust their lineup of teachers. Personnel members have left and arrived during the summer season, and alongside altered staff members such as a new yearbook/newspaper teacher and Head Secretary, CHS has welcomed a new metals teacher to their selection of faculty.

Burcham began teaching in New Zealand. Education-wise, Burcham sought after and received a degree in Civil and Coastal Engineering in order to get the position as a metals teacher here at CHS. As the sole person in the school working in metals without technicians of any sort to help, Burcham is in charge of coming up with projects for students, updating the curriculum, and fixing anything around the workshop.

“Centennial’s a great place. It’s a smaller school, which is nice,” Burcham said. “It’s a nice size. This would be my sixth school. I tried to be a high school teacher, but went to the middle school- the middle school’s great, but I’m back in high school now.”

“I like the Eagles thing. It’s a good strong identity. You see it around the school, and it helps you kinda take on that identity of what it is. The school colors are good as well. I’m not from America, but red, white, and blue tend to be pretty identifiable as American.”

Despite not being from this country, Burcham decided to live here after he met his wife and got married. He revealed his initial reason for coming here was for a kitesurfing trip. “So I got married, basically, to an American. [She’s] from Wisconsin and she lived here- it’s one of the best places in America to live in, and ended up here. I’m probably gonna retire from New Zealand, obviously because New Zealand’s awful.”

“I taught middle school over there, so that’s a bit different,” Burcham said. He then went on to say that New Zealand had a lot of authority compared to here in the US. He also pointed out that trade schools were a lot more different over there as opposed to how we do it. “It’s not set up like this over there. It’s more paperwork based, more process based on actual physical scales. But it’s better than teaching Zoom anyways.”

According to Burcham, the return back to hands-on learning was more of a shock than anything. “If you look back at the start of the term, one, everyone’s just come off of summer holidays which is always more than two months off and a change to the routine. And one, coming back to physical teaching. [The] previous guy Mr. Watts did a good job taking care of this place and setting it up, and it’s got really great bones. So it’s just a case of figuring out projects which work for me.”

In regards to coming back to a physical school environment this year, Burcham did say that creating relationships now is as important as it has been the previous year and a half. Engaging in schoolwork is also another key element too according to him, and students need to stay diligent and do their assigned work when told to do so. “Whereas, we’re making something, and if you don’t engage here, you stick out like a sore thumb. I’m not saying there’s a lot of lazy people, but post-COVID, where you didn’t have to do anything for two years, it can be a shock to the system to come back in and be like ‘Oh, we have to do work.’ So it can be a bit of a shock to people when they see that learning isn’t sitting on a computer.“

He stated that design is more interesting than anything he’s done in the past, mainly due to the brain power required. His metal work now is all about adding design towards everything.

“It’s more ‘everyone isn’t back.’ It’s a bit of a stop-start, it’s not one or the other. It’s not normal teaching because you have masks to worry about, and have to pick up on. It’s an extra bit of an issue. And I’m a new teacher, so you’re trying to build relationships, but also have to worry about masks. So it’s not helpful, but it is what it is. It’s always grim when someone starts complaining about it. Like dude, we’ve been doing this for two years, and you’ve not figured it out yet.”

Burcham then ended the interview by saying that he looks forward to the school’s future. There’s “great kids, great thoughts, and some great energy here”