(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Stephanie Burnam has worked in public education for 31 years, including the past two decades in Cedar Hill ISD.
She’ll bid farewell to the district when 2022-2023 classes conclude this Friday.
“I’m going to miss the ‘a-ha moment’ when seniors realize their career path and the colleges they’ll attend,” Burnam said.
Burnam, the 2020-2021 Collegiate High School Teacher of the Year, taught Career Preparations and Problems & Solutions to Collegiate seniors. Much of her work has taken place at Dallas College’s Cedar Valley Campus.
“I found Project Learning to be successful,” Burnam said. “Each scholar is searching for their own path in life.”
Burnam she’s now ready to spend time with family and pursue other interests, including possibly teaching private tennis lessons and watching her nephew play college tennis for Furman University in South Carolina.
“I’ll sit back and reflect upon a 31 year career,” said Burnam, who will continue to umpire collegiate tennis.
Burnam is best known for preparing her scholars for colleges and careers, but it was the sport of tennis that drew her into becoming a fourth generation educator.
Burnam’s parents would play tennis when they were dating each other at Hardin Simmons University in Abilene.
Both Burnam and her younger brother, Russell, started playing competitive tennis at a young age.
Burnam was a two-time State Champion Tennis player at Abilene Cooper High School in the early 1980s. She earned a full tennis scholarship to Northeastern Louisiana University (now, known as University of Louisiana-Monroe).
“The summer after my freshman year, I taught at a tennis camp,” Burnam said. “The education bug bit me, and I wanted to be a coach.”
Upon earning a Bachelor’s Degree from Northeastern Louisiana, Burnam returned to Cooper as an assistant coach. She had an opportunity to coach Russell, who finished second at State and earned a tennis scholarship to Tulsa.
Burnam took a sabbatical from education in the 1990s to travel the world as a professional tennis umpire. She worked all of the major tournaments, including Wimbledon, the US Open, the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and tournaments in Australia.
Umpires were not supposed to interact with the tennis players, and Burnam followed those rules. However, she did have an opportunity to escort Martina Hingis off the court during a break in the action, when fellow tennis star, Martina Navratilova, silently handed Hingis a change of clothes.
Burnam also had an opportunity to umpire a match when Roger Federer was still playing on the junior circuit.
When she decided to return to the classroom, Burnam applied at Cedar Hill High School, where she coached the tennis team and taught Business classes.
Burnam gave up coaching while she earned a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) from Dallas Baptist University.
She moved to Collegiate a decade ago and started the campus’ Business Professionals of America (BPA) chapter.