Burlington High School Principal Eric Burling congratulates graduate Joey Berezowitz during last spring’s commencement ceremony at the school. Burling, who has been with the school district for 31 years, the last 11 as BHS principal, will retire in June. (Photo by Chad Hensiak)

Longtime educator hailed as an advocate for students

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

Burlington High School Principal Eric Burling sent his own three children through the school he runs along with thousands of other students he also considers his kids.

“He is one of the most loyal, humble, and passionate individuals I have ever met,” said Assistant Superintendent Jill Oelslager, who has worked with Burling for 19 years. “His compassion for students can be seen daily. He greets students in the morning, talks with them in the halls, and attends their after-school activities.”

Burling, 57, who has been a teacher, coach and administrator in the school district for 31 years, has decided to retire at the end of the school year.

On Monday the Burlington Area School District Board of Education unanimously approved his request to retire on June 30.

“Thank you for your service – thank you for taking care of my kids,” School Board President Peter Turke told Burling.

In an interview Tuesday, Burling said it was not an easy decision to make,

“It’s bittersweet, but it’s time” he said. “I’m going out while I still really like my job.”

Burling’s enthusiasm and optimism for his school and his profession are his hallmark as he resists the temptation to retreat to his office in favor of a hands-on style that strengthened his interaction with teachers and students.

“Over the course of his career, Burling recognized the need to support the whole student beyond classroom instruction,” district officials wrote in a news release issued Tuesday. “He collaborated with teachers and students to assist in the growth of the character education and service-learning program known as DRIVEN.

“He has supported school counselors in developing a comprehensive counseling model where every student meets with their counselor and a parent to discuss post-high school plans. The School Counseling office received the Program of Promise award for six years, which demonstrates the school’s commitment to student services.”

Superintendent Stephen Plank said Burling created and maintained an atmosphere that took the interests of all students into account.

“Eric has always maintained a focus on ensuring that BHS offers a diverse and comprehensive student experience,” he said in message to district staff on Tuesday.

To read the full version of this story see the Jan. 13 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.