Students: Good luck on Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament Mr. Burnett.
How did you come to be on the Jeopardy! Teacher's Tournament?
Well, I--I've watched the show since I was a child, um, and I always had a know-it-all attitude. I auditioned online. Some friends told me about it. And, I did well enough to be here.
How did you prepare to be on Jeopardy!?
Well, truth be told, uh, so there's a web site called the J! Archive that has every sing--just about every single question that shows up on here, so I've been looking at that a lot. But, mostly, like, it's a lot about--I think I'm already pretty well prepared. So... I coach scholastic bowl which is just this on a larger scale, so I think I've done enough--I think I've prepared enough already.
What are your dream categories?
So another dream category--uh, y'know, it, might seem odd, but HEAVY METAL MUSICIANS. I--just--y'know--it's an absolute genre that I adore.
How does it feel to be a semifinalist in the Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament?
It feels amazing. You know that I'm going to come back and try to win more money and, y'know, enjoy it. Like, if they're all this competitive--it--that's--y'know, I think I can handle pressure. It's amazing just to be here, and it's really--it's amazing to win, too.
What do you hope your students will learn from watching you on Jeopardy!?
Uh, I always try to give my students this great thirst for knowledge in all things, not just world history. Everything is interrelated, and I hope that they apply this in all that they do.
What's Alex Trebek like?
Oh, I mean, he's, y'know, very good at what he does. Uh, y'know, the--the man is a consummate professional. He makes you feel happy to be here no matter what happens. It's a good--it's a great experience.
What was the best part of your experience on Jeopardy!?
I mean, the best part is, you know, the atmosphere. Uh, understanding what's going on. Getting--getting on national television and having that knowledge represented. Y'know, kids, it's great, be smart. You can wind up up here, or, y'know, you can wind up as a lawyer and make, y'know, tons more money than I am!
How does it feel to be a finalist in the Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament?
I mean, it--it's amazing, uh, to represent myself as a teacher, represent my alma mater, y'know, all those who taught me and inspired that love of learning that I hope to inspire in the next generation of kids. It's an amazing experience and I'm so happy to be here.
If you win the $100,000 prize, what will you do with your winnings?
It--it's not going to me. Uh, my mom needs a house. And, uh, it's going--it--it's going to go--I would have her endorse the check, if I could, along with me. Uh, y'know, it--is it life-changing money for me? Not necessarily. But it is life-changing money for my family.
What will your students say about your success on Jeopardy!?
Um... given the send-off that I had, not to be full of myself, but it was kind of expected. It was just like, "You're--right, you're gonna win." And--and I have no idea. And I asked--and I have no idea what that meant, and, like, they'll... love it. I mean, I'm pretty much known as a know-it-all already. Um, like, say, I coach the Scholastic Bowl team, so, like, I hope they can win. They can't win money. Maybe, y'know, win a regional or sectional championship or two. But, it does mean a lot to the kids. It means so much to the school, and I'm so happy to represent them on so many levels.
What's it like to compete against your fellow teachers?
I mean, I would say the camaraderie that has developed between us, y'know. We're all in the same position, we're all in the same boat. We all want to show off what we know, and prove to our students--if they don't already, because most of them know--that it's great to know more about the world around you, and, y'know, you get to display this in a game, a contest. And it's still--it's an amazing rapport we've developed.
Do you have any special messages for those back home who are cheering you on?
Being alumni means that every teacher that I had as a kid has said, "If you don't give me a shout-out," like, "everybody's going to hear about it." So, I mean, if I had to, I couldn't list all of them. Uh, y'know, I was threatened to be, like, y'know, demoted from coach by one individual, but, y'know, playfully--thank you Mr. Kerton. Uh, but, I would say I would definitely thank the kind of spectrum of teachers I had at Fenwick, the spectrum of teachers who are now my colleagues that inspire me to keep learning and inspiring those to learn.