I first heard about Ms. Burke when I interviewed a young man who lives in Bernal Dwellings, the housing project just north of Cesar Chavez. He had been shot in a drive-by when he was 17 and still in high school.

He credited his social science teacher in helping him get through the rough months of recovery after the shooting. “Ms. Burke’s like my godmother,” the young man said.

So I looked her up. She invited me to her financial literacy class at John O’Connell High School. Convinced that what she teaches her young students is an act of social justice, Ms. Burke is also open about her own personal story. Her tribulations and life lessons inspire closeness and trust in her students that’s unmatched by the school district curriculum.

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Ms. B. Photo by Mimi Chakarova.

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MULTIMEDIA ADVSIOR. I’m a documentary filmmaker who taught with Lydia at Mission Local when it was a Berkeley Project. Now, I’m called in to advise on projects and delight in doing so. Otherwise, I’m making films. My last was The Price of Sex. Others include Men: A Love Story and In the Red. My current project is Still I Rise.

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  1. this is either a sequel to that hillary swank movie or live feed from the sunken place.

  2. It’s about time. This is inspiring! This is wjat tje “ulnerable” “marginalized” must learn at an early age to escape the perpetual underclass. And they ain’t gettin it at home 8-(

  3. Did I miss something here? I was expecting to read exactly how she teaches financial literacy differently than other teachers. Specific examples of her lessons and results of students acquiring financial literacy skills.. All I’ve some away with is one student is thankful and the author admires her.

    1. Dear Not A Native,

      I wonder if you watched the video. “The Teacher” was not a print piece but a multimedia story – one in a series of profiles about people in the community who have remarkable stories to share and whose work makes a difference. And yes, you are absolutely correct, I do admire such people and look forward to producing more multimedia stories that highlight their resilience, work and mission.

      All the best,
      Mimi Chakarova

      1. No I didn’t see the video. It didn’t show up on my browser so I didn’t know it was there. So I changed browsers and saw the video.

        I still didn’t get a personal understanding of exactly what she’s teaching besides a general respect for money and pep talks talks that even with a low salary someone can have money work for them. There was a little bit about massive fast increases in some companies share prices. I really hope she not telling students that buying stock shares is a reliable path to wealth…I guess I’d like to hear the actual practical things she’s teaching about how students should decide what to do with the money they have. And see that students have actually incorporated that teaching into their money decisions.

  4. Its ironic how at CCSF they are trying to close social justice and cultural classes, My professors were telling me that its in the works of happening. Many schools do not seem to think that it is an important subject especailly if the people wanting to know that subject are people of color or LGBQT, struggling to live can also be a factor in why these group struggle so often in their communities. When their is poverty then it is usually riddled with violence and drugs and prostitution. The 17 year old must have seen so much where he resides, its hard to live around violent people especially if they are that of your own race, I have been through that and as a female I worked hard not to remain in a community I felt would not change. Thankfully for this kid his teacher was his support, not many teachers are this way. Have been in the public school system from the 90s through the early 2000’s most teachers did not care, or if they did, they just gave suggestions and then you were on your own. This teacher actually cares, and thats rare now adays in the public school system.