Dr. David Burleson standing in new food pantry at BUCM

Dr. David Burleson, executive director of Burke United Christian Ministries, stands in the newly-expanded food pantry at the ministry.

Dr. David Burleson, executive director of Burke United Christian Ministries, will say goodbye to the ministry to become the new director of New Dimensions Charter School in Morganton on Aug. 1.

Burleson said he couldn’t pass up the job opening when he heard about it.

“It’s hard for an educator not to be in education,” Burleson said. “I missed being in the schools and being a part of children’s lives. It just seemed like a great opportunity to continue doing what I loved to do for 35 years in a little bit different setting. The different environment will give me a little bit of a challenge to learn something different in education. I’ve not been part of a charter school, even though I worked very closely with charter schools, especially in Avery County.”

Burleson’s two-and-a-half year tenure at BUCM came at the conclusion of a longtime career with Burke County Public Schools and a couple other school districts. He began his career in education at Freedom High School as a math teacher and coach, according to his biography. He served as assistant principal of that school through 1991 until becoming the principal of what was then Oak Hill Junior High School. He returned to Freedom as principal in 1992 and remained in this capacity until taking the associate superintendent’s position in 1996. Burleson became superintendent of BCPS in 2000 and held that position until June 30, 2009.

His biography notes his many accomplishments while serving as superintendent with BCPS:

» Played key role in BCPS winning a National Magna Award of Excellence for its Pre-K mobile education on wheels

» Assisted in developing the school system’s drug policy and student code of conduct

» Created summer camps for students

» Procured millions of dollars in grant monies to address student needs and develop creative programming

» Realized alternative educational programs for those who need a different approach to education

» Helped to keep the dropout rate at the lowest in the school system’s history.

He continued his career at North Forsyth High School as principal from 2009-10 and became the assistant superintendent for Winston-Salem Forsyth County High Schools from 2010-11. He earned his Ed.D in educational administration from Appalachian State University while serving as superintendent of Avery County Schools from July 2011 to June 2017. He left Avery County in 2017 to become the executive director of BUCM.

Burleson noted how the ministry grew while he was there.

“There are some programs that I hope are in a better place,” he said. “We are pretty much paperless now, a little bit more streamlined. We’ve increased the number of clients we serve tremendously, almost double.”

He explained how his work with the ministry prepared him to better serve New Dimensions.

“Our community has a lot of needs, and it takes an entire community to meet those needs,” he said. “I’m going into another area to help people meet needs, and I now have the resources that I didn’t know about that are in place throughout the county, the many partner agencies that I’ve had the opportunity to work with. I have that as part of my toolkit that I can use for parents, families and community members that have needs.”

He said he will greatly miss the BUCM staff and clients.

“We have a really good team here, and I’m really excited to inherit a good team that’s already in place at New Dimensions and going into a well-established program,” Burleson said.

He shared his vision for the fully accredited school, which serves approximately 325 students in kindergarten through eighth-grade.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do to come up with our goals for the year,” Burleson said. “I think there are three goals that any educator going into a position like this should have. One is that every classroom in the school is a classroom where a parent would want their child to be educated. The second goal is that every student in the school makes the maximum growth they possibly can in a year’s time. Third is that we create a team at that school to help achieve those first two goals. If we work as a team and collaborate together and support and encourage each other, then I think we can meet the goals of providing the best possible education that we can.”

To learn more about New Dimensions Charter School, visit www.ndschool.org or contact Dawn Grindstaff, public relations specialist, at 828-437-5753.

Staff writer Tammie Gercken can be reached at tgercken@morganton.com.

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