Principal shares memorable moments, future plans

John Burdett looks to new role as Director of Student Services


Photo by Anisha Mandem

Sitting in his office, Principal John Burdett discusses plans for the day with Secretary Kim Winnubst. This year will be the last year for Burdett at Prosper, after being principal for five years. “Being with kids, just creating things, spaces and structures that can help students find their passion and pursue it, helping them grow and fulfill their purpose in life,” Burdett said. “That’s my favorite piece.” 

More than $52,000 raised for cancer research.
More than 3,039 lives saved by blood drives.
More than 700 state and national qualifiers.
Five years.
Hundreds of thousands of handshakes, laughs and hugs shared.

Under Principal John Burdett‘s leadership, these moments impacted the school and the community. After coming from Frisco Independent School District, Burdett joined Prosper High School as principal in 2016. As his last year as a high school principal ends, and his role as the Director of Student Services begins, he shared experiences that made his time memorable – along with his plans for the future.

Burdett initially started his career teaching seventh-grade English in Alabama. He said he enjoyed being in the classroom.

“I loved that I was able to influence a small group,” Burdett said. “Those small interactions were what made being a teacher worth it. I got to teach my group of kids, which was fantastic.”

Burdett then became an assistant principal in Alabama after the superintendent asked him to give it some thought. He later decided that he wanted to be able to reach out to a larger population.

“Hopefully, I’m doing the right things and having a positive impact on people,” Burdett said. “Being able to empower our students and staff is what I hope I can do as principal. Everyone has their own edge, so we encourage them to figure out where their program is and where we want it to be as far as the standard of excellence.”

He (Dr. John Burdett) is really a great principal and cares for each and every one of the students.

— Junior Aabh Patel

Burdett said his everyday interactions are what make being a principal so rewarding.

“Being with kids, just creating things, spaces and structures that can help students find their passion and pursue it, helping them grow and fulfill their purpose in life,” Burdett said. “That’s my favorite piece.” 

Assistant Principal John Boehringer has worked with Burdett since he first arrived at Prosper. Boehringer said his time with Burdett has been amazing.

To be perfectly honest, he has been one of the best principals I have ever worked for in any capacity,” Boehringer said.

Boehringer said that he would have loved to have Burdett as a teacher, as it is incredible to watch Burdett’s support for his students.

“Dr. Burdett is an outstanding listener and has great patience to work through complicated situations,” Boehringer said. “He takes input from everyone: students, parents, teachers and other administrators. I’ve never worked with a principal who I felt really shouldered the burden personally as he does. He really cares about making things good for all of our students.”

Boehringer said that Burdett constantly pushes himself to grow in his profession and improve things for the student body – and still manages to stay humble.

“He doesn’t have a bombastic personality,” Boehringer said. “He’s not up in your face, but if there’s a problem that needs to be solved or somebody that needs help, he’s going to make sure it happens. It has been an honor and a great learning experience to serve as his assistant principal.”

Boehringer said his impression of Burdett has changed since he first came.

“At first, he was a little bit difficult to get to know because he does have kind of a quiet personality,” Boehringer said. “But, he has a forceful presence, which was pretty intimidating. However, after months of getting to know him, I really warmed up to him and saw what he wanted to do for our students. It really meshed with a lot of my own visions.”

Junior Aabh Patel has also been able to see Burdett’s work, as well – but at a student level.

“When I first met him, I got caught walking around school,” Patel said. “He told me to follow school rules and go back to class.”

However, Patel said once he had a chance to talk with him, he realized Burdett had his best interest in mind.

“He was very chill and made a good first impression, but he was kind of intimidating,” Patel said. “You realize later, though, that it’s all for good of the students.”

Patel even discussed a non-profit club idea he had with Burdett that would aim to help children – it eventually became a reality.

“We started talking about my club idea, ‘Light Up Lovies,'” Patel said. “It’s a club where we make light-up teddy bears and give them to kids who have disorders, cancer or other illnesses. He was very supportive and told me to never give up. He’s really a great principal and cares for each and every one of the students.”

Besides supporting students, Burdett said working with his staff is one of the best parts of his job.

“They created an amazing experience for me, and made the environment at the school more welcoming,” Burdett said. “I hope I can impact them more with this wonderful opportunity.”

Burdett hopes to have a better connection with the community and get them involved – something he said he looks forward to in his new position.

“Tests are important, but there’s so much more to it,” Burdett explains. “We should be graded on more than tests, because in life you don’t go around bubbling in answers.”

Burdett said that his new job allows him to make the less obvious, but equally important, parts of school count, as well. 

Instead of only interacting with our school, I want to have an impact on hundreds of students and their families. I want to help every kid and every employee. That’s my calling as an educator.

— Dr. John Burdett

“We are here for the kids and parents,” Burdett said. “What do you want your schools to look like? Then, grade us on that. That’s more important to us than any test.” 

Burdett’s new job also opens opportunities for the community to have more say in how the schools operate. 

“I love working with a superintendent (Dr. Holly Ferguson) whose goal is to get the community involved and working with us to create what we want our reality to be down the road,” Burdett said. “Because, in the end, that is what’s absolutely best for our kids.” 

By taking this new job opportunity, Burdett said his plan is to reach out to even more people and continue to connect and improve. Even though the journey hasn’t been easy, Burdett said it was all a learning process.

“Every single mistake I have made – whether it be a wrong decision or something I’ve said – has given me the chance to become an even better principal,” Burdett said. “At the end of the day, we may have walked 18 miles going around the school, but tomorrow is a new day filled with so many opportunities to make our school even better.”