James Burdick

James Burdick

Interim Lead Teacher | Wild Horses

James joined Middle Way in 2022-2023 to serve as the Interim Lead Teacher of the 6- and 7-year-olds of the Wild Horses class while Talia Wilo continues her parental leave. As a graduate of Bard’s Master of Arts in Teaching program and former Kindergarten co-teacher at High Meadow School, James has a breadth of experience and training as an educator that will serve our Wild Horses well—as will his Buddhist practice. We’re delighted to have James on board.

The relationship between a teacher and student is one of the oldest and most vital assets that we possess as a species. It is a dynamic, collaborative process and, when it is rooted in our innate compassion, it is playful.

My discovery of this fact occurred in a Lower East Side kitchen, of all places, as it was in this kitchen where I taught English to my coworkers while they in turn taught me Mandarin. This would eventually lead me to Asia where I took up my first teaching position in Taiwan. There, I fell in love with my students and the process of teaching itself. I taught English to  students aged 5-16 for five years in that beautiful country until it came time for me to return to the United States. Once here, I found a new community to serve at High Meadow School, where I worked as the  Kindergarten co-teacher while managing  the Mandarin language curriculum. Through this experience, I decided to continue my own education in order to develop and better serve as a teacher. And so, after my second year at High Meadow, I enrolled in Bard College’s MAT program. Upon completion, I came to realize that I wanted to pursue a career in early childhood education.

I discovered my love for this “game” of education by way of a circuitous path, but along this way I was able to gain an eclectic variety of experiences which have informed the practices of my instruction. First and foremost, I believe that all children are capable of learning, and that each student comes into the classroom with a strength that they can lend to their community.

Secondly, education is not a transactional process but rather one of mutual discovery and (as I mentioned before) play. I am both honored and elated as a practicing Buddhist myself to find a community in the Middle Way School whose mission embraces these tenants. 

When I am not teaching, I am often practicing or coaching at my second home: Black Hole Jiu-Jitsu. If not there, you can often find me hiding from the sun under a shaded tree, reading a massive tome of fantasy or science fiction.

I’m excited to get to know my Wild Horse students, families and the wider Middle Way community.