Mark Burden, Head Groundsman for Corcoran Unified School District was named the School Employee of the Year at the 2017 Excellence in Education Awards, which were held Thursday, April 6 at the West Hills College Eagle Arena.
Burden was attending the awards ceremony as the winner of the Corcoran Unified School District Employee of the Year. He was chosen as one of three finalists for the overall Kings County Employee of the Year out of a group of eight winners who represented schools throughout Kings County. Burden was chosen as a finalist for the overall county award along with Astrid Garrovillo, Adminsitrative Secretary at Lemoore High School and Kathy Simas, Lead Secretary at Pioneer Elementary School. Burden won the Kings County Employee of the Year for all his hard work over the past 36 years working for Corcoran Unified School District.
While Burden has been officially working for Corcoran Unified for 36 years, his history of working at the schools and in the community goes way back to when he was still a student. At the age of 13 he was chopping weeds and that was followed by helping Frank Avitia and Mr. Rivas moving sprinklers by hand at the school grounds during summers. He also worked for Mr. Toney and Mr. Grier, custodians at John Muir, pushing brooms down the hallways. He remembers two single push brooms were hooked together to cover twice the space. He also pumped gas at Charlie’s Texaco after school.
A native of Corcoran, Mark attended Fremont and John Muir schools prior to graduating from CHS in 1978. He then worked for Plaster contractor Ray Harris and farmer Bud Balum before working fulltime for CUSD starting January 1, 1981. He helped build the center pole barn at the Ag Farm and was small engine mechanic and bus driver prior to transferring to groundsman, working with Billy Reed. Around 1992, became the head groundsman. He is proud of helping CHS look spiffy in its effort to win the Distinguished School Award.
When Burden first started working at CUSD there were only two workers, he and Reed. They had to take care of Corcoran High, Kings Lake which at that time was just two buildings and the high school baseball diamonds.
He says he learned everything he knows from Billy, who left the job because he moved to Arizona. After taking over, Burden adds that now he supervises five people who work grounds and drive buses. He is in charge of grounds maintenance for the whole district which includes Bret Harte, John C. Fremont, Mark Twain, John Muir, CHS, Kings Lake, the district office, the bus yard and Corcoran Community Stadium. He and his crew which he says is a great group of workers also prepare sites for all sporting activities, afterschool extracurricular activities, graduations and promotion ceremonies and other events such as Relay of Life and Every 15 Minutes. He and his crew also aid in construction at the schools.
His most memorable times while working for the district have been seeing his kids go through school and graduate. He also enjoys when visiting schools come to play in Corcoran and they complement the facilities.
Mark and his wife, Debbie, who is the Bret Harte Site Director of the After School Program for the RAC, have four grown children, Misty, Mark, Dustin and Demi. They have three grandchildren. He loves hunting dove, fishing and has been active in softball programs since he was 18 and still plays to this day in a league with Dustin. He can boast that all four of his children have attended college, with two having graduated and two continuing their studies.