Educator marks 50 years of devotion to students’ dreams

Being an educator and counselor has never been about a paycheck for Dianne Burrell, even as she approaches 51 years serving the St. Charles Parish school district.

“It’s been about seeing my students succeed,” Burrell said.

It’s a distinction that earned Luling Elementary counselor recognition from the School Board on Wednesday, and an honor merited by her devotion to seeing her students succeed.

And Burrell has no intentions of retiring as long as she’s capable of doing the work.

Her secret to longevity is her passionate desire to help students “rise above their limitations.”

Describing herself as an advocate for students, she considers herself a resource for their development and wants them to rise.

“It’s mainly because I really, truly want to help students and in the areas of academics, achievement, personal social development and career development,” she said. “I want to help students become productive, well-adjusted adults.”Burrell recognizes their growth, which actually helps her see the future.

“I see them succeeding and continuing their education,” she said. “I have worked with the parents of the students and some grandparents and even great grandparents of the students I work with now. I go into the homes and try to help them wherever I possibly can help them. I help them financially, too.”

It means a lot to Burrell to see her students grow, as well as change, learn and explore.

“I feel successful when I can help them to be successful,” Burrell said. “I want to see them as successful individuals. I want to see them compete with any boy and girl in the area.”

In her 50 years with the system, she’s observed good change that has transformed households and communities.

“I see a lot of good programs from the time I started until now,” she said. “I am extremely excited about restorative practice. I see the students bringing this into their homes. I see systemic growth in the community.”

The influence of this change became evident in observing students dealing with emotional issues better such as bullying or self-esteem issues. Burrell said she’s seen even kindergarteners behave better when they feel good about themselves.

“I’m excited about the direction our parish is going in,” she said. “Our schools are absolutely great.”

When children transfer to the system, Burrell has seen the difference in them.

“I see growth in our students,” she said. “I believe that total success is an obtainable goal for our students.”With more than 50 years as an educator, Burrell said her proudest moment is every moment she has been able to help students and their families identify their dreams.

“When I see one of our students graduate from college or medical school, I feel great because I know I’ve played some part in that,” she said. “I want our children to understand they have a world of opportunities whether they are. I want them to know ‘I am a valuable individual.’”

Since starting with the school system in 1965, Burrell has taught at J.B. Martin Jr. High, taught science at Hahnville Junior High, as well as was a counselor at Hahnville High, R.J. Vial Elementary, Killona Elementary and now at Luling Elementary.

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