Growing up surrounded by educators—her dad, grandfather and great-grandmother—Josephine "Josie" Bursk, EDU '23, aspires to become an educator herself. In high school, Bursk had the opportunity to volunteer at a preschool lab program where she met a student who made a lasting impression on her.
"He came into preschool not knowing any English, and I got to work with him every day," Bursk said. "We formed this amazing connection, and I remember, during this holiday party, when he ran up to me and started saying 'jingle bells, jingle bells.' Those were his first English words. At that moment, I knew that I had a passion for working with young children."
Bursk began her college career on the other side of the state at Duquesne University. There, she participated in a mentorship program at a school in Pittsburgh. Bursk said the principal informed her she would have a place on their staff when she graduated.
"That's when I had an 'Aha' moment. If I want to work in the Philadelphia area after graduation, I should probably be going to school there too," said Bursk.
Shortly after, in 2020, Josie transferred to Temple University, majoring in early childhood education in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD).
"When the pandemic happened, I didn't know what the future held, so I chose Temple University because of the flexibility offered. I also liked that it was in the city and had a lot of public transportation. I felt like I had more options here," explained Bursk.
Bursk credits the college with helping her feel prepared for her student teaching experiences.
"I have gained the most from my conversations with my professors, administrators and classmates," Bursk shared. "My time in the field has been great, and any time I had an issue, I was able to reach out to members of the CEHD for support and advice."
One piece of advice that she would offer to future CEHD students is to use their resources.
"Student tuition includes lots of resources so you should use them as much as possible. Never feel bad about asking for help because everyone is here to help you," mentioned Bursk.
Outside of her classes and student teaching, Bursk was also a CEHD peer advisor.
"Being a peer advisor was by far the best job I've ever had because of the people I interacted with. There is such a great environment in the advising unit and Shimada Resource Center," Bursk shared.
Bursk said she felt she was doing rewarding work as a peer advisor because she got to help people who were in the same shoes she was once in, and she knew how stressful the process could feel.
Bursk is also a member of the conduct committee in the Tri Delta Sorority; president of The Future Educators of Temple University (open to students in any major); a member of Kappa Delta Phi, the Educational Honors Sorority; and served as an Owl Team Leader in the summer of 2021.
Through these activities, Bursk has participated in a variety of community service projects, and helped to plan professional development and social activities.
Bursk encourages other students to get involved, adding that new students are always welcomed to join The Future Educators of Temple University. After graduating from Temple University in May 2023, Bursk wants to continue her teaching journey here in Philadelphia. She is currently student-teaching in a kindergarten classroom at Valley Elementary School in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and would love to continue working with that age group.
"I believe that the foundation of education is community and relationship building," shared Bursk. "I've taught in different settings, and I think the golden thread between all these experiences is relationships. You cannot successfully teach a child unless there is mutual respect and trust."