Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Feel the Burn(s)

Posted 12/12/2018 by Kaleb Pittman

Bill Burns actively participates in classroom activities to both motivate and monitor his students, ensuring their safety. photo by Baxter Stein

Local legend Bill Burns continues to surprise Thomas Jefferson with his limitless enthusiasm and positivity.

Every day, physical education teacher Bill Burns arrives at TJ with abundant spirit and vigor which he shares with both his students and fellow staff members. In his weightlifting class, each period is dedicated to progress and building important health principles within his students; it is because of his personal guidance that the class is so rewarding and enjoyable.

His teaching skill, in accordance with the quality of his class, is nothing short of fantastic. He maintains a strict yet flexible policy with “assignments”, which is a term that pales in comparison to the rigorous exercises Burns delegates to his students. Despite his class’ distinct sense of positivity, Burns makes sure to pull none of his punches throughout the school year regarding physical activity. Long stretches of running, exhaustive bodyweight exercises, and hefty weightlifting routines are some of the workouts Burns’ students have come to expect, proving to be fair yet challenging.

In each of his five classes, Burns drills his students on the importance of each group of muscles they work and how to most effectively train them. To Burns, exercising with a schedule in mind is the perfect way to test the strength of all the core areas of the body. Although this may seem intimidating at first, the class heavily focuses on building and maintaining a positive environment where every student knows how to properly establish a training regimen for themselves. Each student’s workout is a dynamic experience that can be altered for the individual. This makes the class free of generalized expectations and lets students concentrate on what they have to do in order to progress.

Having taken Coach Burns’ class for three consecutive years, senior Hunter Wall knows a lot about Coach Burns and his teaching methods. Wall appreciates that he is able to “approach the curriculum at [his] own pace and work on completing personal goals” in class. He had nothing but positive things to say about Coach Burns, stating, “He is always encouraging and has an optimistic attitude.”

Burns shows no sign of slowing this trend either. His passion for teaching is deeply rooted in his desire to see results. “The progress that students make and their concrete effort to achieve results are what this class is all about,” said Burns. It reminds him of a time when he himself was not able to lift as much as he liked, and the resulting triumph he felt when he was finally able to meet his target weight. “The whole room cheered and gave me a round of applause. You work hard and you get better, it is as simple as that,” remarked Burns. His specific teaching methods “show the progress that the students work so hard to achieve,” usually in the form of academic and exercise-related tests. From the results of the test, Burns lets his students know what they need to do in order to stay on track in their regimen and encourage further progress.

Burns’ dedication to development is a huge component of the way he teaches and goes beyond the walls of the gym. He consistently challenges traditional exercise as well as the attitude towards it, and it is through his class that many students learn that weightlifting can be an enlightening, dynamic experience tailored to their individual goals. If you see him around TJ, make sure to thank the wonderful coach for his positive attitude and approach to physical education.