Henrico County VA

Top Teachers: Erin Bourne

Byrd M.S., eighth grade
Erin Bourne is willing to concede that the future employment opportunities of her current algebra students are unlikely to depend upon their abilities to solve quadratic equations on the spot.

But, they may depend upon their abilities to solve problems.

Bourne, who has taught eighth-graders for 11 years at Byrd, does her best to make algebra fun for her students while impressing upon them the importance of understanding the process they use.

“They might not use this specific topic, but what I’m teaching is problem-solving skills and how to use them,” Bourne said.

It’s working; Bourne is a student favorite who earns high marks for her classroom demeanor and willingness to help students who need assistance.

“Every child that has or has had her as a math teacher loves her,” one nominator wrote of Bourne. “She is patient and inspiring. Her knowledge of algebra and trigonometry is above and beyond. She takes algebra and applies it to real life, and therefore the kids seem to appreciate why algebra is essential for life. She is well respected and highly regarded by all of the students in her class.”

Math comes naturally to Bourne, who said she has always loved it but wasn’t sure what she’d end up doing with it. A career fair in college helped sway her toward teaching.

Students appreciate her personality – a mix of excitement and occasional silliness.

“I have been told before by my kids that I’m very funny – they compare me to Jim Carey in my facial expressions,” Bourne said with a laugh. “I’m very enthusiastic – I almost feel like I’m performing when I’m teaching.”

Bourne regularly holds tutoring sessions before school begins to offer extra support for any students who need it. She can relate to those who do.

“The kids would probably be shocked to know that I took algebra twice,” she said. “I got a C the first time in private school, then took it again in ninth grade.”

The fit at Byrd has been a comfortable one for Bourne, who describes the faculty as a supportive family.

“Everyone is supportive, willing to help,” she said. “Every year there’s a new initiative that the county wants us to take on, and those faculty members who have been trained in it are anxious to help others.”
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The Henrico County Community Author Showcase, a program that connects writers and readers in the community, will begin at 7 p.m. and continue on Thursdays at various libraries. Suzanne Starseed… Full text

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