The 2018 Shepherd University Storer College Faculty Award was awarded to Dr. Dawne Raines Burke ’94, professor of education and human development and author of the book “An American Phoenix: The History of Storer College from 1865-1955.”
The Storer College Faculty Award recognizes a member of the faculty each year who incorporates diversity and social justice in the classroom, research, scholarship, and interaction with students. The winner is selected by Shepherd’s Diversity and Equity Committee and receives a $1,000 stipend to be used toward professional development.
“Dr. Burke literally wrote the book about Storer College, its significant history, and contemporary relevance to social justice in education,” said Dr. Tom Segar, vice president for student affairs. “She infuses multicultural education in her teaching and scholarship, preparing the next generation of educators to skillfully create inclusive learning experiences. She embodies the values this award recognizes with everything she does inside and outside the classroom, and I am delighted for her to be this year’s recipient.”
Burke said she is humbled and honored she was chosen as this year’s recipient.
“I have to reflect back on my own educational process and how the educators I had all through the schools that I went to were very tolerant of the fact that I was a child of Appalachian poverty,” Burke said. “Oftentimes children of poverty might not be well accepted or tolerated because they remind teachers of a missed thread of the social fabric in America. Because of that background, everything that I do is oriented toward social justice and civil rights.”
Burke incorporates in her classroom a teaching model created by James Banks, the Kerry and Linda Killinger Endowed Chair in Diversity Studies and the founding director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Seattle, who is considered the guru of multicultural education in America.
“When students leave my classroom, they already have a construct and orientation about how to embed different pieces of literature and design lesson plans with regard to incorporating multicultural education,” said Burke, who pointed out that social justice is not just about skin color.
“I talk to my students about universal designs for learning, which is a special education application with regard to teaching different methods and strategies using various resources so that all children in the classroom can progress and succeed,” she said.
Burke’s passion has been working with the National Park Service to make the public more aware of Storer College and its contributions to educational equity. Storer operated in Harpers Ferry from 1865-1955 and its primary mission was educating African Americans.
“Many people in this state had no knowledge that Storer College even existed,” Burke said. “As I looked at the different jigsaw pieces connected with that college, I just thought ‘what a beautiful story, what an inspiration.’”
Burke, who is a member of the Storer College National Alumni Association, believes the college still serves as a great example to those pursuing social justice today.
“Storer College was an institution that from the very beginning was exercising social justice,” she said. “All students were welcome to attend–it wasn’t just students of color. If you read the catalogs, they were also recruiting women. It served in a 300-mile radius over its nine-decade history.”
Burke has represented the Eastern Panhandle on the West Virginia Women’s Commission, works with an organization called Sisters of Love, which helps women and their children escape abusive relationships, and belongs to organizations including the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society, National Association for Multicultural Education, and International Association for Intercultural Education. She has mentored students in Cameroon, South Korea, China, Israel, Pakistan, Jamaica, St. Thomas, and the Dominican Republic. She has also served as vice chair for the West Virginia Human Rights Commission.