Get to know alumna Pat Burchfield, Foley High School Class of 1948.
1) Where were you born and what year did you graduate from Foley High School?
My name is Patricia Crosby Burchfield; I was born in Bay Minette, Alabama, and I graduated from Foley High School in 1948. My maiden name was Patricia Jean Crosby, so that is the name in the Foley High yearbook. I am married to Wilbur M. Burchfield.
2) Did you participate in any extracurricular activities?
In the 1940’s, Foley High School was a small school, which did not offer many extra-curricular activities. I was not into sports or cheerleading, so I didn’t do either of those. I did belong to the Beta Club which was an honor society similar to the National Honor Society, but usually found in smaller high schools. I was on the yearbook staff. There wasn’t much else that could be called “extra-curricular activities.”
I had to laugh at the question, “Were you any good?” Has anybody answered this question in the negative?
3) Did you go to college, business, or technical school after graduation?
I was Valedictorian of the Class of 1948. It was always expected that I would go to college and I did. I attended Birmingham-Southern College for three years, got married, had six children, and changed addresses a lot. When we finally settled in Mobile, I started back to college at the University of South Alabama. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967, majoring in English and minoring in Mathematics. That was South Alabama’s “Charter Class”—their very first graduating class.
In 1976, I received a Master of Arts Degree from the University of South Alabama, with a major in Education for Gifted and Talented Secondary School Students and a double field concentration in English and Mathematics. In 1989, I received a Doctor of Education degree from Auburn University in Mathematics Education. You might say that I went to college after high school and I never stopped going! War Eagle!
4) What sort of jobs have you done since graduation?
I was a Mathematics Teacher for 38 years. I taught 5 years of Middle School, 25 years at Murphy High School, and a total of 22 years as a part-time instructor of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of South Alabama. For 14 of those years at the University of South Alabama, I was also teaching at Murphy. At Murphy I taught the Honors and Advanced Placement Mathematics and was the upper level mathematics teacher for Murphy’s International Baccalaureate program.
Before I became a teacher, I was a stay-at-home mom for seventeen years. Raising six children is not for sissies!
5) If you hadn’t become a teacher, what would you have done?
I would have become a Medical Doctor.
6) What life lessons has adversity taught you?
I have learned that the most important thing in life is love. The people who love you, and the people whom you love, are more important than any amount of money. When times get rough, it’s your friends and family who will see you through, with God’s help.
7) What are one or two things you really miss about high school?
My good friends at Foley High School and the caring teachers I had there.
8) Who was the person who most influenced you and how?
Do you mean at Foley High School? If you do, then I’d have to say Elsa Britton, my Senior English teacher. She demanded the best of me—even assigned me a tough book to read for our class assignment of doing a book report. The rest of my class got to choose their book, but I didn’t! She told me what to read and that book has stayed with me all these years.
In my whole life, I would say Dr. Stephen Moony, at the University of South Alabama. He was my Creative Writing teacher. Dr. Moony came into my life when I most needed to believe in myself. He believed in me and, as a result, I began to believe in myself once again.
Dr. Ken Easterday, at Auburn University was my Major Professor and Chairman of my Doctoral Dissertation Committee. The Graduate students who were assigned to Dr. Easterday’s care called ourselves “Ken’s Kids”. He was the best.
Notice anything, here? They were all teachers. A caring teacher can make a big difference in a person’s life.
9) If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I’ve been privileged to have traveled a lot in my life. But there are places I’d still like to visit—Australia, all the National Parks of the United States, and all across Canada, to name a few. I’ve been to 31 states and I’d like to finish the list!
10) What is the one thing you would encourage high school students to do before they graduate?
Oh, this is easy!
I would say, “God has given you gifts. Use them to the best of your ability, always.”
11) The best advice you would give a twenty-year old would be….
Be realistic about your expectations for the person you marry.
(12) What do you like to do with your spare time?
I write, for one thing. That includes poems, essays, creative non-fiction, and letters. I read a lot, spend time with my friends, and—of course—with my husband.
(13) What makes you happy?
Being with my grown-up children.