Twice the Burmark

Rachel Smith, A & E Editor

The saying ‘like father, like son’ remains true for two staff members, Dave and Keegan Burmark. Dave Burmark is the career counselor and assists students with making future decisions. He has been at Peninsula for 13 years and has recently been joined by his son Keegan Burmark, who is the new lab science and anatomy teacher.

“I was kind of shocked when I found out, I never put that in my brain that we could be working in the same school,” Dave Burmark said.

Keegan Burmark, although he is a teacher did not always feel that he wanted to be involved in the school district. Due to the strong involvement his family had, both of his parent being counselors Keegan Burmark decided at a young age that he was not going to go into education.

“I was passionately against it. Everyone in my family was a teacher,” Keegan Burmark said.

His opinion on teaching slowly changed as he entered college and was struggling with deciding on what he wanted to do as a career. Teaching became the thing that he felt would best suit his personality despite the lower income. He realized that some of the other career paths he had been considering were not what he wanted to do.

“In my junior year of college I was sick of not knowing what I wanted to do. I looked at all the things I was good at; teaching, pathologist, pharmacist. Being a pharmacist was boring, being a pathologist required a lot of schooling, I couldn’t start full time until I was 34, and being a teacher, I kind of get to be my own boss, it was at the top of the list,” Keegan Burmark said.

Dave Burmark was aware that Keegan Burmark wanted to do something different and was shocked when his son announced that he had changed his future career plans despite the constant protest Keegan Burmark  had made regarding education.

“I’m a school counselor and so is his mom. Keegan always told us that he would never go into education, then he got his degree in Biology and was looking around for work as a pharmacist. Then one day he came and said he wanted to be a teacher. We were surprised,” Dave Burmark said.

Despite Keegan Burmark’s feelings against education Dave Burmark knew that his personality would not fit well with the career choice that he had previously wanted to pursue, which was being a pharmacist. Upon researching more, in his junior year he realized that he did not enjoy the work as much as he had thought.

“He’s always been very outgoing that’s why I never thought he’d be a pharmacist. He’s a people person, happy, like’s to have a good time,” Dave Burmark said.

Keegan Burmark graduated from college with a masters in Biology and began working at Orting high school. During Keegan Burmark’s time at Orting high school he learned more regarding teaching style and how to keep students attention so that they get the most out of class as possible.

“I think in teaching there needs to be a balance of two things, engaging and covering content. It’s hard to balance both. I just try to keep kids excited while learning core content. If you’re a student and you’re engaged and excited you’re going to learn more,” Keegan Burmark said.

He continued teaching at Orting for four years before receiving the job at Peninsula.

“I grew up in Gig Harbor and went to Peninsula. I liked it when I lived here and I wanted to come back. My long term goal was to get back to the Peninsula School District. When I found out I had gotten the job I was thrilled, I was super excited. For the last four years I’ve had a 40 minute commute but now I live in Gig Harbor, most of my family is here and Peninsula’s a great school. I was excited for the students as well,” Keegan Burmark said.

For Dave Burmark, working with his son has allowed past memories to be re lived.

“When my son brought his three year daughter here and we were walking to my office it was so weird because I had a flashback of me and my son, when he was little walking to my office, it was a full circle flashback,” Dave Burmark said.

Dave Burmark has been with the school district for 26 years and has gone between Gig Harbor high school and Peninsula as a counselor but for the last four or five years he has been a career counselor.

“Originally, I was a counselor, there were parts that I liked and didn’t. I switched because being a career counselor dealt with positive things and I’m a people person. It’s fun, it’s positive, working with kids about their future and making it reality. Plus, at Gig Harbor we didn’t have a career counselor so the counselors kind of dealt with things like that, so I had experience,” Dave Burmark said.

As Mark Burmark has been switching between the two schools for years he has had the opportunity this year, once more to make a decision regarding what school he wants to work at.

“It’s been fun. I actually had a choice about either going to Gig Harbor or Peninsula. When my son got a job here I chose Peninsula,” Dave Burmark said.

Because Dave and Keegan Burmark have been working together, they have had the opportunity to be together more often, improving and building on their father and son relationship. All the while helping and encouraging students through their positive personalities and their desires to help students learn more and achieve their goals. It has been odd having two Mr. Burmark’s but it has been twice the awesome and as the school year goes on it is sure to be even more.

“It’s been fun to be at the same school. It’s strange having the two worlds come together. Sometimes he’ll come into my classroom and I’ll be confused and then remember that we work at the same school,” said Keegan Burmark.