Dennis Burke and Dee Dee Allai have made a difference in the lives of more students than they know. For their service to education, Burke, a superintendent, and Allai, a classroom teacher, were recognized by the PSU College of Education at the Clyde U. Phillips Awards Recognition Ceremony in April.

Burke, superintendent of USD 508 in Baxter Springs, Kan., earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and superintendent certification all from Pittsburg State. He began his career as a history and government teacher and for the past 23 years has served as an administrator, first in Riverton, Kan., and now in Baxter Springs.

Under his leadership, the districts he has served have gained national recognition for academic achievement. He is highly engaged with his community as is evidenced by a high level of support and involvement in the schools.

Allai, a fourth-grade teacher at Westside Elementary School in Pittsburg, started her career as a social worker. The problems she saw in that job convinced her that if she wanted to make a real impact on the lives of children, it needed to be in the classroom. Allai, who already had a bachelor’s of science degree in social work from PSU, returned to her alma mater to get her teaching certification. For the past 29 years of her 31-year career in teaching, Allai has taught in Pittsburg. She has played a vital role in helping her schools win numerous state reading, math and writing awards.