Middle school mainstay Monica Miracky reflects on 40 years


Photo by Lily Barnes ’21

Monica Miracky came to work at Burke as an English teacher in 1980, only 12 years after the official founding of the school. Forty years later, Miracky now serves as the Head of the Middle School and the Assistant Head of School for Programming for Burke.

However, Burke was completely different from what Miracky was used to. She was looking for English teaching jobs in the DC area when she found Burke. She got job offers from Burke and Immaculata Catholic School, but the Catholic school reminded Miracky of her own high school life.

“Immaculata was going to make me enforce the dress code and to enforce that you walk on a certain side of the stairways. It was very rigid. It was like the high school I came out of, and I knew I didn’t like,” Miracky said. “It was obvious to me that Burke was the best fit for me. Since I stayed here for 30 years, that must have been true.”

Miracky grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with devout Catholic parents. She spent her childhood going to various Catholic schools in Milwaukee before later moving to Minneapolis to finish high school. Miracky ended up in DC when she began graduate school at Georgetown University. In DC, Miracky had various jobs before coming to Burke.

“I did a lot of waitressing and stuff like that. When I was in graduate school, although my tuition was paid from a fellowship, I had to pay living expenses.” Miracky said. “So I worked in the animal lab of neurology department, and my job was to clean the rodents’ cages, and they all had big tumors because the lab was doing cancer research.”

Miracky began at Burke as an 8th grade English and AP English teacher. However, it wasn’t long before she took over as Head of Middle School for Burke.

“I was working closely with the person who ran the middle school. She was one of my mentors” Miracky said. “I was not ready at all to lead the middle school, but I did the best I could.”

Miracky’s responsibilities at Burke developed further when she created and applied for the role of Assistant Head of School for Programming. She got the job and for almost 10 years has been both the Assistant Head of School for Programming and Head of Middle School.

During her time at Burke, Miracky has seen first-hand the changes that took place in the school.

“Burke is definitely different, but not in its core values and not in its spirit,” Miracky said. “All the changes that take place in Burke all serve its mission. It still puts kids at the center of their own education.”

Miracky finds that these aspects of Burke, the aspects that have stayed constant throughout her time here, are among the best things about Burke. However, Miracky also finds that her interactions with kids are another part of her job that she deeply values.

“I have always loved being around kids,” she said. “I love what kids bring to our community and to a classroom. My own ideas and my own thinking have changed because of my interactions with kids.”

Miracky plans to continue advising and engaging in the Burke community after she leaves, as well as volunteering with kids outside of Burke.

“I’m planning to explore and find a good volunteer situation that puts me in contact with kids. Something that will keep me connected to my neighborhood and my community and keep me in connection with kids.” Miracky said.

After leaving Burke, Miracky also wants to spend her time reading, traveling and writing. She also hopes to get physically stronger so that she can continue skiing and staying active. For Burke’s future, Miracky hopes to see Burke continuing to be a joyful, committed, passionate, and intellectually focused school.

“It has been a joy and an honor for me to work at Burke. It’s strange these days for a person to stay at the same job for 40 years. And I feel really lucky that I was able to do it and it was obviously such a good fit. It’s been a joy and a delight. Not every day has been a joy and a delight but something in every day has been,” Miracky said about her time here. “My hope for this school is that it continues to attract wonderful students and families that are so different from one another and terrific teachers who enjoy the company of young people.”