Kathleen Burfoot: Bringing Passion for Her Profession into the Dental Assisting Classroom in Fife

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For more than 50 years, Kathleen Burfoot has dedicated her life to the dental profession. She fell in love with dentistry because it gave her the opportunity to help so many people in so many ways. With the same training she now provides to students at Charter College in Fife, WA, she was able to build a career and travel the world. In the military, as far back as the Vietnam War, Kathleen used her skills and experience to help with soldier facial reconstruction and dental identification for casualties. And in civilian life, she stayed in dentistry, going on to manage three dental clinics.

Sharing a Wealth of Dental Assisting Knowledge

Still thirsty for knowledge and forever passionate about the field, Kathleen made a pivot later in her career to teaching. Although often keeping one foot in the dental assistant work world—she managed a surgical practice at the same time for a while—Kathleen says teaching seemed a natural progression.

“The reason I switched to teaching is because I love to learn but I ran out of stuff to learn,” says Kathleen. “And with teaching I learned that all the topics were new through my students’ eyes.”

Kathleen loves to share the wide range of dental experiences she’s had over the years, always reminding her students that with the education they receive at Charter College, they can have all kinds of adventures.

Speaking about the facial reconstruction work she did in the war, Kathleen says, “I didn’t have any idea that I could do that with the training I had. But I found there were so many avenues I could take. I want my students to understand that there are lots of opportunities out there.”

A Dental Assisting Teaching Style that Works

Kathleen loves the blended learning at Charter College because she isn’t forced to just lecture to students from a textbook. Blended learning helps her to foster the kind of environment she wants in her classrooms. She can dive right into the lab.

“I don’t want to talk in front of them. I don’t want to bore them,” says Kathleen. “The very first day of class, I have them X-ray a skull. They don’t know why they’re doing it at first, but we compare those to other scans as their skills grow.”

Lecture material is provided online, so Kathleen gets to focus on laboratory and clinical exercises to give her students hands-on practice they’d use in the field.

“I do not lecture in class. I take students into the clinic so they can get a feel for the instruments,” says Kathleen.

Kathleen likes to provide students with tangible results they can show others so they can share their progress with family and friends.

What Makes Charter College in Fife Home?

Charter College feels like a home for Kathleen and her students. With its smaller class sizes, she has more personal involvement in her students’ academics, lives, and their paths to success. She loves the connections she builds with her students in class and even beyond graduation.

“My favorite part about teaching at Charter is seeing the lightbulbs go off with my students,” Kathleen says. And her favorite times of the year are graduation days. “There’s a cord they get that indicates they’re employed,” says Kathleen, “and for the past four years, all of my students are employed.”

Kathleen says she’s also happy that students want to keep in touch with her after they graduate. One of her students is doing so well that she’s now managing 19 clinics.

“We keep in touch, and I even learn from her what I should teach my current students,” says Kathleen. “And it’s great for them to see that she had the same training they’re getting.”

Do you want to meet some of the dedicated Dental Assisting instructors at Charter College? Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more!