New education dean on board at USC Salkehatchie | News | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | October 13, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: October 11, 2017 at 11:33 am
By JULIE HOFF
For Dr. Karlin “Kay” Burks, her new position as dean of education at the University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie is a homecoming of sorts.
“My family moved North years and years ago, but they are originally from Kingstree,” she said.
Since 2015 Burks has been an assistant professor/coordinator of teacher education at USC-Aiken; she accepted the Salk position, which is administered by USC-Aiken, on Aug. 16. She is a faculty member in the School of Education and the director of the teacher education program at Salk.
Burks was raised in Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, a daughter of the late James and Betty Burks.
She’s been a human resources professional, a classroom teacher, an elementary school principal, an instructor at Penn State, an author, an international school principal in Qatar, an academic counselor and a mentor for new teachers.
Education is a second career for Burks: She was in human resources as a recruiter for 10 years.
“I liked HR and I was making good money, but I didn’t feel I was giving back to my community,” she said. “Teaching is a calling.”
Burks earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Millersville University, a master’s in education at Widener University and a master’s in education at Lehigh University, all in Pennsylvania. She earned her doctorate in education, in K-12 school administration, from Seton Hall University in 2014.
Her sister, Keia Bennett, is the one who influenced her to go to college.
“From a very young age she wanted to go to college. I just wanted to get out of high school and had no interest in college. But she would come home on weekends and tell me how great it was and what it was like. She’s the one who really pushed me to go. I didn’t start applying to colleges until my senior year.”
Career-wise, she spent 17 years in K-12 education, starting out as a classroom teacher and ending as an elementary school principal, both in the U.S. and internationally.
What took her to the Middle East?
“I’ve always had that gypsy in me and I love new challenges,” she said. “My mom really encouraged me to travel. She really instilled that in me.”
Burks has a “full circle” story about the teacher who influenced her the most:
“I was in the fourth grade. We had just moved to Pennsylvania and my parents were getting divorced. It was a tough time. I had a teacher, Ms. Slade, who welcomed me to the school, Greene Elementary, and hugged me every morning. She made me feel like I belonged, like I was truly a part of that school.”
Fast forward a few years: In her first year of teaching, Burks was in a meeting for new teachers and teacher coaches when she was asked to talk about who inspired her to be a teacher. She told the story, “and a woman starts crying in the back of the room. It was Ms. Slade! I could not have planned that,” she marveled.
When Burks heard about the opening at Salk, she decided to throw her hat in the ring.
“I like smaller campuses because you get that personal touch,” she said. “Before the interview process was over, I felt at home.”
Now she splits her time between the Walterboro, Allendale and Aiken campuses. “I drive a lot,” she said, smiling.