The Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation this week named Jamie Burdorf, of Shenandoah, as the first executive director of the non-profit organization, which solicits donations to build financial support for the Shenandoah Community Schools.
Burdorf is a part-time pre-school teacher at Turnbull Child Development Center and is also the editor, part-time, of the weekly newspaper in State Center, Iowa, where the family lived previously. She now becomes the part-time director of the education foundation – and will continue to be a full-time wife and mother of four children, 14 and younger.
She said she is accustomed to being busy.
“I don’t sit very well,” Burdorf said. “I have a to-do list every day. I think one of my strengths is my organizational abilities and giving everything 100 percent. I feel like I’m a go-getter, and I love trying to help people.”
She said she looks forward to meeting alumni of the Shenandoah Community Schools, as well as friends and supporters of the Shenandoah schools who graduated elsewhere.
“I love talking to people, even people I don’t know,” she said. “In fact, I often embarrass my 14-year-old daughter when I do that. She says, ‘Mom, you’re talking to complete strangers!’ ”
Burdorf’s husband, Aaron Burdorf, the past three years has been activities director at Shenandoah High School. This summer, besides serving as head softball coach for the SHS Fillies, Aaron is transitioning to become principal of the elementary and middle schools in Shenandoah.
Jamie has twice done volunteer work on education foundation projects in the past year.
“Everything I’ve seen the foundation do – the latest example was the 2020 newsletter that just recently came out – has been impressive, really good work,” she said. “I also happen to know most of the people on the board of directors, and they are good people. Plus, I’m a teacher, married to an educator, we have kids in school, and both of my parents are educators, so I really appreciate what the foundation is doing for the schools here.”
Foundation president Corby Fichter said that after he’d had a conversation with Burdorf in recent weeks, she was interviewed by three foundation board members last Friday, June 19, and he offered her the job the following day. She accepted the position on Monday, June 22.
“Our foundation is absolutely pleased and honored to have Jamie join our team to be our executive director,” Fichter said. “Jamie brings a passion for education, for building relationships and for making a difference in the community in which she and her family work and live.”
The foundation has grown rapidly in its five years. With various campaigns, it has raised nearly $600,000, which is being used to build an endowment for the Shenandoah schools. The foundation also provides grants to teachers so they can pay for extra educational resources and opportunities for students that might not be possible in the school budget. And they provide scholarships for SHS graduates as they start college or vocational training.
The foundation has been operated by its 11 board members, who are all unpaid volunteers.
Burdorf will eventually take over leadership of the every-other-month board meetings. She will also be leading the promotion of foundation events and projects; be in frequent contact with alumni and other friends of the Shenandoah schools, and lead the foundation’s communications efforts with local media, with the foundation’s social media and on its website, www.shenandoahiowaeducationfoundation.org.
Jamie and Aaron Burdorf both grew up in extreme northern Iowa, graduating from Armstrong-Ringsted High School, Aaron in 1998 and Jamie a year later. Both went on to Sioux City for college, Aaron graduating at Briar Cliff and Jamie at Morningside. She graduated in 2003 with a major in business and an emphasis in marketing.
The Burdorfs spent 12 years in State Center, where Aaron taught and coached in the West Marshall Community Schools and Jamie began her work with the Mid Iowa Enterprise newspaper. They moved to Shenandoah in 2017.