Krishna Burra: Award-Winning Teacher and System Level Principal
by Anam Fatima
Alumnus Krishna Burra (B.aH. ’95, B.Ed. ’96), was born and raised in Kingston. He entered teaching because of his own high school experience: as a teenager, he had enjoyed all the different range of activities and energy of secondary school. The idea of working with other young people as a high school teacher appealed greatly to Krishna, and coaching and athletics were a big draw towards teaching.
“I came to the Queen’s Concurrent Education Program, one of the few concurrent programs in Ontario, which allowed me to combine my undergraduate studies in history and political studies, as well as education. I was considering a career in national defence or foreign affairs in my honours year, before reaching B.Ed. studies in my fifth year. My love and passion for history and political studies pulled me in a couple of different directions.”
Nevertheless, Krishna continued on to his B.Ed. year and discovered his true passion was indeed teaching. The challenge was to find a teaching job upon graduation in the fall of 1996, when the job market was not very promising. Krishna went on to become an occasional teacher.
While teaching occasionally, Krishna enrolled in a master’s program as a civilian at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in War Studies. He finished his first year in the program while teaching occasionally. In April 1997, Krishna got his first full-time teaching job, and left his master’s program to devote his time to teaching and coaching.
For just over a year, Krishna taught at the secondary level, and then transferred to elementary for 2 years where he taught the Challenge Program at Calvin Park PS. After his two year transfer, Krishna moved back to secondary to teach history and mathematics. In 2001, Krishna assumed the role of department head of social sciences at Sydenham High School. In 2005, Krishna assumed the role of Vice Principal for several years.
Currently, Krishna serves as a system level principal with the Limestone District School Board. In this role, he is Assistant to the Director and Supervisor of Safe and Caring Schools. He has responsibility for safe schools, equity and inclusion, bullying prevention/intervention, and school climate, among several others not related to safe schools.
“This central position allows for a macro level viewpoint on education. A lot of focus is on professional learning with adults, such as the school administration. The biggest challenge, and the largest component, of this position focuses on striving for safe learning environments to support student achievement.”
In his many roles, Krishna has made outstanding contributions to the lives of Queen’s students and teacher candidates alike. In 2004, Krishna was awarded associate teacher of the year for excellence in mentorship and guidance of teacher candidates. As well, he was awarded the Baille Award in 2008 for excellence in teaching at the secondary level—nominated by his former students who were graduating from Queen’s. The award recognized the tremendous impact Krishna had on the successes of these graduating students.
Krishna advises graduating B.Ed. students to persevere, and to pursue their passion regardless of any obstacles:
“Follow your passion, whether in education or something else. If you are dedicated to teaching and working with young people, you will need to persevere. For the vast majority of people the way into teaching is through occasional teaching or moving to another area where positions are available. I encourage all B.Ed. graduates to pursue their dreams because teaching and working with young people is a remarkably rewarding career because you make a difference in young people’s lives everyday.”
Krishna lives in Kingston with his wife Katherine and their three children.