Warriors You Should Know – Will Burck

This week’s “Warrior You Should Know” is Will Burck from the Music department. Will was one of the first teachers that I met as a new comer to Waubonsie Valley and he made me feel very welcome. Now it is your turn to get to know Will (if you don’t already).



What do you teach?

I teach students about music and how to play the instruments in the string family: violin, viola, cello and bass.

How many years of experience in education do you have? How many have you taught here at WV?

This is my 28th year of teaching students about music and conducting orchestras. My first position was two years at F.L. Smart Junior High in Davenport, IA followed by six years at Washington Junior High in Kenosha, WI. I have been in District 204 for 20 years; my first three were at Crone Middle School and the past seventeen have been here at Waubonsie Valley!

Why did you get into education?

All of my high school teachers encouraged me to follow my passion. My high school orchestra teacher was “instrumental” in introducing me to the viola professor at the University of Iowa and even setting up an audition.

Where did you go to high school?

I grew up in Cedar Rapids, IA and attended Kennedy High School. At the time, it was a 10-12 high school with trimesters; which seems completely strange to me now! I played in orchestra all three years and was active in the theatre. I loved playing tennis with my friends and riding my road bike on long trips along the Cedar River.

Where did you go to college?

My bachelor degree is from The University of Iowa. I also have two master degrees: Master of Music Education from VanderCook College of Music (Chicago) and Master of Educational Leadership from Aurora University.

Where do you get inspiration from?

My students, great music, and our WV music staff.

What is your favorite Warrior Memory?

The first Veterans Day Assembly after 9/11. Dr. Rudy Keller set the tone and I am always impressed by how respectful the students are for our honored guests and students who have made a decision to serve.

Is there a student that you will never forget? Tell us why they were so memorable.

Too many to count. I recently got a Facebook request from a student I had over 20 years ago to tell me that his daughter is now playing the bass. That is pretty cool.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

As a conductor: conducting the finale of Prism with my WVHS lanyard hanging out of my pocket.

Favorite book?  

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig)

Favorite Song/Artist?

Hamilton is pretty amazing.

Favorite Food?

Rhubarb Pie.

Favorite childhood teacher and why?

Ms Halbloom. She was my elementary and junior high orchestra teacher. Even though she kicked me out of orchestra for a week in 7th grade, she encouraged me to take private lessons and go to summer camp. She also convinced my parents to purchase an instrument. At the time, I couldn’t really understand why anyone would want to be an orchestra teacher! She also introduced me to New Horizons in Music Appreciation by P.D.Q. Bach; go look it up on YouTube.

When not at school, where do you like to spend your time or what do you like to do? Do you have any special talents?

Anything with two wheels! I have bicycled across Iowa eight times on an incredible ride called RAGBRAI. I plan on doing this again this summer with some great adult friends, my son Joe, and his friend Forrest who is from Juneau, AK

I also own two Harley Davidson motorcycles. The one I ride I purchased in 2015; the other one my father purchased in 1957! My wife and I enjoy hitting the back roads. Two years ago we spent a week traveling from Chicago to Boston. The back roads of America are so much more interesting to experience than traveling by interstate. This summer we are planning on going riding around Lake Superior.

Special Talent: I am a pretty good card player: Bridge and Euchre.

What are your future goals?

I love planning the international and domestic orchestra trips; WV orchestra students travel every two years. We are currently planning our next International orchestra trip to Ireland in the summer of 2019!

Who do you live with? Spouse, kids, pets, etc.

I live with my wife, Andrea, who teaches music at Georgetown Elementary School and directs one of the Young Naperville professional children’s choirs. My son Joe is a freshman here at WV. I also have a son who is a junior at Baldwin Wallace University and a daughter who recently graduated from St. Olaf College.

If your department had to vote you, “most likely to…”, what would they vote you?

Most likely to recommend a podcast!!! Here is the short list:

1. Presidential (The Washington Post/Lillian Cunningham)
2. Hidden Brain (NPR/Shankar Vedantam)
3. Philosophize This! (Stephen West)
4. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore Histroy (Dan Carlin)
5. Sticky Notes: The Classical Podcast (Joshua Weilerstein)

Be sure to say hello the next time you see Will and make it a point to see the WV Orchestra perform. Their next concert is May 21st & 22nd.

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