PEMCO Spotlight: John Burgess

Throughout the month of May, we’re partnering with PEMCO Insurance to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Month with a Teacher Appreciation Sweepstakes. Read on to learn a little bit more about PEMCO and its employees through an interview with a member of their team.

JohnBurgess_001What’s your name and role at PEMCO Insurance?
John Burgess, Corporate Communications manager.

What was your favorite subject in school, and how does it relate to what you do today?
I loved English class. Reading stories, plays and poems. I liked writing and grammar — yes, even diagramming sentences. After high school, I took a two-year journalism program and then earned a degree in English lit. Before joining the corporate communications team at PEMCO, I reported at small community newspapers in Montana and Washington. So my favorite class directly led to what I still do for work.

If one teacher from your childhood visited you at work today, who would put the biggest smile on your face, and why?
My 12th grade English teacher Mrs. Roe. She taught me that ideas are nothing to be afraid of — a mantra I still repeat today. She took us to see “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. We sat on stage with the actors, which I still think is very cool. I would want her to know that I still talk about that experience and that I’ve made a living as a writer and editor.

If you could be a guest teacher for a day in a local classroom, what subject/lesson would you cover?
How to write haiku, the Japanese short poetry form. I’ve written poetry since high school and for three years  lived and worked in Japan teaching English. I could draw on both of those experiences to put together a lesson.

Why is celebrating Teacher Appreciation Month important to you and PEMCO Insurance?
PEMCO was founded by a school teacher, and we still offer an educator discount. We support youth education organizations like DECA and Junior Achievement. Our foundation provides college scholarships. As employees we’re encouraged to be continuous learners through professional development. So education and teachers are core to our values here. They’re among the things that are important to me, too.

My wife is a kindergarten teacher in Seattle Public Schools, so I know how hard teachers work and how much of themselves they give to their students every day. Also how much of her own money she spends on supplies and teaching aids and sometimes a coat or shoes for one of her students. Teachers do an incredible job. I bet almost everyone can name a teacher that made a difference for them. They should be appreciated year round!

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