Love of math, children, lead to teaching career

Published 9:33 am Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Tamakki Burks didn’t plan on becoming a teacher until she found she had a natural talent for working with children through her love of math.

Burks has taught mathematics and social studies to sixth graders at South Park Elementary School for nine years — two years as an assistant teacher and seven in her own classroom.

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Burks graduated from Warren Central High School in 2002 and continued her education at Hinds Community College, where she received an associates degree in general studies. Her pastor’s wife, a retired teacher, often encouraged Burks to pursue education, but personally she didn’t think it was the right career path.

“Teaching was the farthest thing from my mind. I did not want to be a teacher, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew I was good at math, so I took up accounting,” Burks said.

She moved on to Jackson State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

Not being able to find a job in accounting after graduation, Burks began substitute teaching and found a passion for helping children learn.

“Once I started subbing, everything just came natural to me and everybody was telling me I was good at it. The kids talked about how they understood more the way I explained it,” Burks said. “That made me feel good, and to want to help students in different ways. So I just had a change of mind.”

She then took the job at South Park as an assistant teacher while she earned her certification by obtaining a master’s degree in teaching from Alcorn State University.

Being a teacher is not easy and can cause some stress and a few headaches, Burks said, but her favorite aspect of being an educator is watching her student’s growth throughout the year.

“Knowing where they were when they came to me and seeing the end result when they take those state tests and seeing how far they grew, that’s the best part,” she said.

Burks said she is teaching higher level concepts in her class than she learned as a sixth grade student. Her students think it is exciting they get to learn this material earlier than she did, she said.

“One of the interesting things we’re doing, which I didn’t do until I was in college is stats,” Burks said. “Finding mean, absolute deviation and all that stuff with statistics. Sixth grade math has changed tremendously over the years. A lot of the stuff we’re doing I didn’t see until high school or college.”

Currently her classes are working on ratios.

Thursday afternoon the entire school attended a pep rally created to get the students excited for the Leader in Me program, which is in its first year at the school.

“We’re hosting this pep rally to get the kids more motivated to instill those seven habits of highly effective people. We’re jump starting that,” Burks said.

She said the program is benefiting the teachers as well as the students by teaching them to organize, prioritize, synergize, be proactive and take responsibility. Burks is on both the Leadership Team and the Lighthouse Team meant to encourage and grow the Leader in Me program with students and administrators.

In addition to those teams, Burks also works with the yearbook staff.

“I’m on so many different committees,” Burks said. “I find myself helping wherever I’m needed. I’m constantly being pulled here and there so wherever they see fit. I’m the go-to guy when it comes to technology…I do it all.”

Burks is married to W.L. Burks Jr. and has a 2-year-old daughter Tiana. Her brother, Michael Parson, is the director of equipment services for the National Football League team the Houston Texans.