Whether by luck or fate, Marge Burger ’80 says she was meant to attend Virginia Intermont in 1976. She discovered VI through her Bridgeton, N.J. high school guidance department after entering various college preferences into a database. VI’s intimate campus, class sizes, and liberal arts education fit what 18-year-old Marge wanted in a college.
Burger came to VI to pursue a teaching degree in physical education. While in the education program, she benefited from hands-on learning experiences that included classroom observation at local city schools and peer teaching and review.
“I have many fond memories of VI and the time I spent there,” said Burger. “The school gave me a great education, and I feel that I am where I am today because of VI.”
She graduated in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in physical education and began her first teaching job two years later at Cherry Street Elementary School in her hometown. Burger taught at the elementary school for nine years before moving to Iowa. But just two years after her move west, Burger found her way home again in 1992 by accepting a teaching position at the local middle school. She’s worn many hats throughout her service there – health and physical education teacher, field hockey and track and field coach, and School Health Council chairperson. With Burger’s help, the school was awarded the Bronze level National Recognition Award by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation for the school’s healthy eating and physical activity programs and policies. A self-described animal lover, Burger has also helped the school raise more than $11,000 for the Cumberland County animal shelter.
Now, after nearly 30 years of teaching and being selected as the 2011-12 Teacher of the Year, Burger attributes much of her success to her academic foundation pioneered by VI professors.
“I really felt prepared to teach after I left VI,” said Burger. “I often think of how well the professors prepared me and cannot thank them enough for having faith in me and providing me with a great education.”
She attributes her successful development of an elementary PE program at her first job to the “plethora of information and classroom resources” provided by former VI education professor Mary Lou Pierce. Burger reflects back on her education often as she teaches her young pupils how to make healthy lifestyle choices and mentors the undergraduate student teachers that observe her classroom. Another VI education professor instilled the notion that one should teach according to the “three F’s,” fair, firm and friendly, a guideline that Burger practices every day in the classroom and in life.
“My education at VI allowed me to show my students that physical education is more than just throwing a ball or playing a game; it encompasses the entire body, and we need to take care of that body to have a healthy life,” said Burger.
When not in the classroom, Burger enjoys camping and spending summer days in the sand and surf of the Jersey shore.