Biography of Josephine Burns

Transcribed from Lucille Rogers' Light from Many Candles: A History of Pioneer Women in Education in Tennessee(Nashville: McQuiddy Printing Company, 1960), pp. 58-59.

Josephine Burns
Mu Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma


From the time she was just a child in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Great Smokies, Josephine Burns has had visions of being a great teacher and rendering distinguished service in the field of education.  Today her dream is a reality.

After receiving her early education in the public schools of Sevier County, Josephine completed her high school work at Murphy Collegiate Institute.  She holds the Master's degree from East Tennessee State College, where she was trained as a specialist in remedial reading, and has studied at the University of Wisconsin.

Miss Burns has made a distinct contribution through a project with fourteen children who had been retained in the first grade.  By way of experimentation she taught them for two consecutive years in a concentrated effort to bring them up to normal.  So remarkable were her results that this project was cited as one of the National outstanding studies in the field of language arts for the year 1956.  A part of her work with these children was a fascinating train trip on the Tennessean to Bristol and other places, culminating in a tour of a large bakery.  This experience she recorded in an article, "An All-Day Excursion That Was Better Than Christmas," published in the February, 1957, issue of the Journal of Geography.

Miss Burns has served for three summers as clinician in a reading clinic at East Tennessee State College.  In the fall of 1957 she went to Maryville as a teacher in the Sam Houston School.  In addition to her regular teaching, she conducts summer classes in the Maryville City Schools and does private tutoring in reading.

Though Miss Burns is quiet and unassuming, she inspires children with great confidence in her ability to help them overcome their handicaps in reading.  This confidence builds the foundation for their improvement.  Perhaps the best clue to her success lies in her own words: "To help a child read, give him plenty of easy reading material.  Do not keep him working on things over his head.  This principle will apply to any branch of reading or to music."

Josephine Burns has pioneered in the teaching of remedial reading.  Her keen insight, her patience, and her perseverance have enabled her to make a unique and lasting contribution to this field.

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