Much has changed at St. Veronica Catholic School during the past 26 years. The Pastoral Center, once a chapel and Kindergarten classroom, became an Extended Care room. The convent dining room was turned into a larger Kindergarten classroom. Later on, a computer room (presently the Kindergarten room) and Science classrooms were added onto the main school building, and finally the breezeway was enclosed. Of course we cannot forget the addition of the Parish Center, which is used regularly for parish functions as well as home games.
One person who has witnessed all these changes throughout the years is 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Janet Burke. Mrs. Burke began her career at St. Anne’s in San Francisco as a 2nd grade teacher. After that she spent 2 years at St. Mary’s in Los Gatos teaching the 4th grade, and then returned to St. Anne’s for 4 more years, teaching the 4th grade. In 1987, Mrs. Burke began teaching the 3rd grade at St. Veronica, which she did for 3 years before moving to the 1st grade classroom. She has been our beloved 1st grade teacher ever since!
First grade is Mrs. Burke’s favorite grade to teach. She believes the children are at the point in their education where they can be molded and shaped into the knowledgeable and successful students they are capable of becoming. Due to today’s technology, children are more advanced than ever, so she strives to make learning exciting for them. The reward is seeing them grow and succeed throughout their years at St. Veronica, becoming ready for high school, and hearing of their future accomplishments.
Highlights of each year include the 1st grade Thanksgiving Feast and the Christmas program. She loves seeing the kids enthusiastic about what they are learning. First grade is challenging, but never boring. She also has had the opportunity to teach the offspring of students she once taught. One such former student is Jodie Maylas Carian (class of 1994), whose son Nathan is currently in 1st grade. Says Jodie, “I was excited to know that Mrs. Burke would be Nathan’s first grade teacher, as I knew he would be in a nurturing, yet challenging environment with a teacher who is genuine and caring. This was my experience with Mrs. Burke as a third grader at SVCS.”
Another testament to her teaching is the accolades she has received. In 2009, Mrs. Burke won the Distinguished Teacher Award. Nominated by the school principal and community, this is an annual award presented by the Department of Elementary Schools of the National Catholic Education Association, to the teacher who embodies the best qualities of true Catholic educators. Mrs. Burke traveled to Anaheim, accompanied by her fellow SV teachers, principal, and family, to gratefully accept this prestigious award.
Of course she would not be able to do what she does without the help of teacher’s aide Mrs. Joanne Nelson – the two have been in the first grade classroom together for 22 years now!
Teaching and working with children runs in the family as well. Husband Tim is the admissions director at Sacred Heart Cathedral in San Francisco. Her son, Patrick, 33 is a high school teacher in Boulder, Colorado. Daughter Lauren, 30, is pursuing her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, while working at the Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto. Both are also graduates of St. Veronica School.
Mrs. Burke truly loves SV and teaching the 1st grade, and even served as Vice Principal from 1988 – 2011. She loves the families, her colleagues, and the school community, which keep her coming back every year. She believes that at St. Veronica, kids learn the importance of community, evidenced by the way the older children foster the younger ones. They learn to put their best foot forward, and that hard work pays off. Their seeds of faith are grown here, and they learn that God loves them and is always there for them – He is their anchor.