Q & A: Sean Burns
By J. Chambless
Burns became the new principal of the Penn London Elementary School
in June. Landenberg Life caught up with him to talk about his
early impressions of the Avon Grove School District, the challenges
of being a principal, and who influenced his decision to become an
educator in the first place.
The new school year is underway. What have been some of your early
impressions of the Avon Grove School District?
I can tell you, the reputation precedes itself. Avon Grove is an
amazing school district. We have amazing families and such a
supportive community. The commitment they have to not only the
school, but also the community at large – it's phenomenal. It’s
awesome to be a part of it and I’m excited. I’m excited for what
the year is going to be, and most important, the opportunity to get
to know all the families that I get to work with every day.
have more than 20 years of experience in public and private
education. Can you talk about your professional experiences you had
before coming to Avon Grove?
started as an elementary teacher and I loved what I did. I worked
with kids from K-8 at a private school, St. Andrew’s in Drexel
Hill. That’s where I developed that passion for working with
students on all different levels. Next, I was fortunate enough to be
hired at Garnet Valley as a teacher. I became assistant principal
there two years later and stayed there for five more years. I then
spent two years as principal at Upper Darby and returned to Garnet
Valley when there was an opening at an elementary school. In 2013, I
migrated to Owen J. Roberts High School. When the Avon Grove position
opened, I was eager to return to my roots in elementary school. I
love being in the elementary setting, so this was just the perfect
a principal of a school comes with a lot of challenges, but the job
probably has more than its share of rewarding moments, too. What is
the best part of your job?
the opportunities to be around the students: Helping out in the lunch
room, having them smile and say hello, greeting them as they get off
the bus and seeing them hold each other’s hands as they walk in the
building. It’s those times when you’re like, 'Wow, this is
seems to changing rapidly. What are you most excited about when it
comes to how students are educated?
me, it’s the accessibility they have to technology and how it can
enhance the learning – not replace it, but to enhance the learning.
To afford them opportunities where they’re able to use technology
and not only do research but also to be able to produce, and most
importantly to be able to ‘own it’ in a sense. To see
kindergarten, first and second grade students do it, it’s
phenomenal. And it’s amazing to see how much they know already!
usually ask our Q & A subjects what three guests they would
invite to a dinner party, but in your case, Mr. Burns, we're going to
change it up a bit: What people are most responsible for your
decision to become an educator?
parents. Not only were they great role models for me, but to see them
sacrifice their time to coach. They coached for years. The
interesting part about it, my dad coached football, baseball, and
track. But my mom also coached track, so they actually coached
together, which was cool to see. You don’t see that too often. I
had them as track coaches from fourth through eighth grade. I was
around them a lot. They were involved, and they loved being around
kids, and just being a part of what we did. They would definitely be
the greatest influence on me.
food is always in your refrigerator?
are my favorite food, but they're not in my refrigerator. I would say
iced tea. I'm an iced tea drinker.