Teachers are pretty smart people, on that we can all agree. But Illinois’ Fenwick High schoolteacher Colby Burnett has bragging rights most teachers don’t – he’s the big winner on this year’s “Jeopardy Teachers Tournament” which took place earlier this month. Burnett, who teaches Advanced Placement World History and is coach of the school’s Scholastic Bowl, won the grand prize of $100,000.
Burnett beat out 14 other teachers to take the top prize and his Oak Park, Illinois high school followed the tournament as he continued to advance. In fact, when he made the top 3, he was shown an encouraging videotape the Fenwick High students made for him. Since “Jeopardy” airs at 2:30 p.m. in Oak Park, screenings of his appearances were held in the cafeteria and the auditorium. Burnett says that the encouragement helped him succeed, even after answering the “Final Jeopardy” question incorrectly, as well as a $15 world almanac that he bought while in Los Angeles.
“They’re very happy for me,” the 29-year-old said. “It’s nothing but overwhelming support,” Burnett told the Chicago Tribune. An alumnus of Fenwick High School himself, Burnett plans to use his winnings to move his mother, Wilma Green, from her current Chicago residence back to Oak Park, where she used to live.
“My mother has sacrificed so much and never complained,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “If I could repay that in kind, that’d be great.”
The coed Catholic high school has had other high achievers during its 80-plus year history including Rhodes Scholars and an Olympic gold medalist. Now they can count a “Jeopardy” winner amongst their ranks. Burnett, for his part, remains humble about his achievement..
“I just think I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.
Watch video of the student screening of Burnett’s win.