Keith Burnham: A life of pi


Keith Burnham has 99 problems…but next year being a math teacher won’t be one of them. Burnham will be retiring at the end of this school year thanks to his sharp investing instincts. Burnham said he and his wife have contributed as much as they could to their retirement funds over the years but he gives full credit to his wife, who handles the majority of the finances. Not to mention the fact that Burnham and his wife together have a double pension fund thus allowing him to retire in his late 50’s. Burnham said his secret to retiring early and comfortably is “investing in yourself.”

Burnham’s unique teaching style has touched the lives of the staff and students alike. “He made me more comfortable doing math on my own but also getting help when I needed it. He provides resources and always reaches out to students especially if they are struggling with something,” freshman Jade Claude said. 

Burnham said that leaving is bittersweet as he’s going to miss the family he has with his colleagues and the energy that the students give him on a daily basis. “As a department we laugh a lot and Mr. Burnham is no exception. He is always willing to listen and does a good job of getting both sides of the story before making a final decision,” math teacher Eva O’Keefe said. 

At the moment, Burnham has no long-term retirement plans. In the short term, this summer he plans to visit his youngest son while he’s stationed in San Diego, CA, then continue on a cross-country roadtrip arriving at Fort Lewis to visit old Army friends. Burnhams enjoys biking, reading, cooking and walking his new puppy that he got last August.  “My plan for the first time in my life is to let things come as they come and do things I enjoy,” Burnham said.

Burnham studied aerospace engineering at West Point and became an Air Defense Artillery Officer, then married his high school sweetheart right out of the academy. He then served his five-year commitment before deciding to rethink his future. Burnham’s wife had to adapt her lifestyle to accommodate her husband’s demanding career. “If I stayed in the Army it was all about my career and not hers, if we got out of the Army then we could both pursue a career,” Burnham said. 

After deciding to leave the Army, Burnham and his wife began working at the Government Accountability Office. “There were often times that it wasn’t too exciting. I had to think about what it was about the Army that made it so exciting? When I thought about it, I enjoyed working with a lot of young recruits,” Burnham said.

Burnham came upon teaching when he learned that he could go back to teach at West Point after graduating. However collegiate level teaching would require a doctorate’s degree. Finally realizing he would only need a master’s degree to teach high school, Burnham went back to college to earn his master’s degree in education with a specialty in math. “I thought teaching high school would be a great mix,” Burnham said.