Beverly Burdette has been selected as the recipient of the 2011 Jacqueline Elliott Award for teaching and service in higher education. The Pellissippi State Community College Spanish professor, who recently retired, will be given the award by the Tennessee Foreign Language Teaching Association in Nashville in November.
Pellissippi State is the only community college in the state to have a faculty member receive the recognition. Burdette is the second Pellissippi State faculty member to be selected for the award since its inception in 1983. Joan Easterly, a French professor, earned the award in 2001.
The award honors a Tennessee postsecondary foreign language teacher for exemplary work. Burdette was selected for outstanding commitment to foreign language teaching at Pellissippi State, including her development of online Spanish courses, for which she also won the 2006 Pellissippi State Innovations Award.
Burdette grew up in Arizona surrounded by Spanish-speaking friends. She also lived in Guadalajara, Mexico, for 10 years.
She earned an undergraduate degree in Spanish from the School of the Ozarks, a master’s in romance philology from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in romance philology from the University of North Carolina.
Burdette joined Pellissippi State as an adjunct faculty member in 1989 and became full time in 1994. She served as the head of the Liberal Arts Department 2001-2003.
Before teaching at Pellissippi State, Burdette operated the Foreign Language Institute in Knoxville for three years.
“It was the most amazing experience,” she said. “I got to hire instructors who spoke every language—Swahili, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, even Swedish. It was fun to sit and listen.”
But it was Pellissippi State where she really found a home: “I love Pellissippi so much. It’s just been a joy teaching there.”
Burdette says she is very honored to have been selected for TFLTA recognition.
“It’s just an honor to join the talented and gifted teachers who have received the award,” she said.
The TFLTA award was first presented to its namesake, Jacqueline Elliott, in 1983. Elliott was a well-respected French professor at the University of Tennessee.
Jane Stribling, an associate professor at Pellissippi State, had longtime acquaintances with both women. She says they shared the traits of spontaneity and enthusiasm.
“Jacqueline told stories of growing up in France during the Resistance [during World War II],” Stribling said. “As a young girl she served as a mail carrier for the French Resistance, a risky venture. Once, she made the cross of Free France in chalk on the side of a Gestapo vehicle. The Gestapo saw her doing it, came chasing after her, and she ran.
“As my office mate, Beverly talked to me about the activities she was planning for her classes. She always remained enthusiastic about teaching. She was energetic with students both in face-to-face and online classes, and was very generous with her time in helping students outside of class.
“Jacqueline Elliott passed away in 2003, but I’m sure she is smiling, since Beverly Burdette was an excellent professor with the joie de vivre for which Professor Elliott is still known.”