Former Monroe Elementary principal Lori Burns, 46, 'brought out the best in everyone'

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Nick Crow
March 31, 2015

JANESVILLE—"I know that I gave it my all and that feels so good. I am leaving Monroe School with pride in my heart. The students, staff and parents are incredible and I was so blessed that God placed me there.

"I never wanted my principal career to end this way, but I believe God has different plans for me."

Former Monroe Elementary School Principal Lori Burns wrote those words as part of an April 10, 2014, blog post she published about a year after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.

Burns died Tuesday after a two-year fight with the disease. She was 46.

Current Monroe Principal Sally Pope said Tuesday it was hard to put into words how she felt about Burns' passing.

"I had the distinct pleasure of working with Lori at Monroe for eight years," Pope said. "I learned everything I know about leadership from Lori and am forever changed as a result of having her in my life.

"Lori brought out the best in everyone she crossed paths with, and has positively affected thousands of students and staff over her career. Her 'whatever it takes' mentality will live on, and it is an honor to carry out her legacy at Monroe."

Burns began her career in the Janesville School District as a seventh-grade teacher at Edison Middle School. She later moved into a learning support position at the school.

Burns began in her role at Monroe Elementary at the start of the 2005-06 school year. In total, Burns spent 22 years with the district, including 12 at Edison.

She is survived by her husband, Bob, and three children, Sam, Natalie and Ethan.

"Lori will be remembered as a great leader, educator, mother and friend," Pope said. "She has touched us in many different ways, and helped Monroe School be what it is today.

"Lori would want us to continue on with all the things she has taught us over the years. She will always be proud of us and our efforts at Monroe and the School District of Janesville. May she rest in peace."

John Kelling, who is pastor at St. John's Lutheran Church in Beloit where Burns was a parishioner, said she knew Jesus Christ was taking great care of her.

"She was a woman of great faith," Kelling said. "Her family is very strong in their faith."

Bill Pearson, an elder at the church, said he had known Burns ever since she first came to the church.

"She was a beautiful person, very, very, very loving and caring," he said. "The church and family were very important to her."

Pearson said he had tears in his eyes as he reflected on what a nice person she was.

"I've known her for a long time and known the family for a long, long time, and I don't know what to say except you don't find people like Lori very often in this world," Pearson said. "She had faith in her Lord, and it showed."

Funeral arrangements for Burns were not yet available Tuesday.

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