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Derek Burbank, Culver High agriculture teacher now in consideration for statewide prize

PMG PHOTO: KIVA HANSON - Derek Burbank was surprised by dozens of Cuvler High Students, including Nic Ivey and Kailee Macy holding the banner.

The Oregon Department of Education announced 16 teachers as regional winners of Oregon Teacher of the Year, including Derek Burbank of Culver High School.

Burbank taught agriculture in Culver for the last eight years and says his goal is to inspire students inside and outside the classroom.

"We have an obligation as teachers to our community, our state and our country to provide an education that transcends the classroom," said Burbank.

Burbank was honored in a surprise event Wednesday, Sept. 14, where he was met outside his classroom by dozens of Culver High students.

"He's really deserving of it," said Culver High Principal Scot Novelli. "Even in the short time I've been here so far I can tell the immense impact he's had on these kids."

Burbank does a lot at Culver High. He teaches agricultural science, which spans skillsets from agriculture and animal husbandry to trade and business skills. He also runs the Culver FFA chapter, which has won numerous state titles under his leadership.

Regional winners of Oregon Teacher of the Year are nominated by their community and complete an application for the award. They are chosen by a panel of regional representatives that review letters, testimony and professional development of the candidate.

Each regional winner receives $1,000 from the Oregon Lottery and is entered into the running for Oregon Teacher of the Year. That award, announced in October, gives the winner $10,000 and funds professional travel expenses for a year as well as providing $5,000 to their school.

"I owe so much of what I know about ag and the classroom to the community," said Burbank. "To the many mentors and mentees that have taught me so much. I owe so much to the program and the school. It really is such a culture here, everyone's connected. It's like the phrase 'Rising tides raise all ships.' That's what we're doing here."

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