Meet the Team

Our team brings a wealth of passion, youth and academia experience from some of the most distinguished schools, halls of ivy, organizations, and establishments. We each share a unified mission, to serve children and help develop their love for reading and literature.


Burst into Books

Creator, Founder, & Executive Director

Jurema Gorham affirms Burst Into Books as an organization that is rooted in instilling our children with the essential tools to grow academically. A life-long learner, Jurema has taught professionally since 2008, working with grades K-12. Seeking inspiration along her professional career, Jurema stays in student mode all the time. When she was pregnant with her son, she yearned for advancement in her career, so Jurema decided to pursue her first Masters’ degree in Educational Leadership. She moved from elementary education to high school, teaching at the freshman level. She noticed many students had learning disabilities. Students were supposed to be at a certain level, but many were not. Here she realized the importance of differentiation learning, so in 2016, inspired by the students who didn’t receive individual support, she went back to school to earn a second Masters’ degree in Differentiated Instruction. Within the last couple years, Jurema moved out of the classroom, coaching teachers and helping them to reach the needs of each individual student. Currently pursuing her Phd, Jurema’s mission is to help focus on the school system and attack many of the loopholes such as standardized testing and other factors why students aren’t mastering tests, excelling and more. Jurema’s experience with navigating relationships between parents, students, administrators, teachers and communities have provided her with a clear advantage of helping address the educational and systemic issues while creating impact outside of the classroom.


 As she enters her 12th year as an educator, she understands the power of being a strong reader. Not only does reading opens a new world to your child, they will strengthen their ability to excel in all of their subjects in school. As she continues to push her son, Trey to explore the world through reading, Jurema’s personal mission is to take along as many children as possible on the same adventure. Jurema is committed to creating a safe space for all children to engage with text and dialogue which is remarkably needed in the community.

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Burst Into Books

Group 1 Book Club Leader (6 Months - 3 Years Old)

Jerilynn Johnson is a 36 year old mother of two from the southside of Chicago. She has two beautiful daughters ages 11 years old and 9 months old who are also members of Burst Into Books. Jerilynn is excited to join the team as Book Club instructor for the 6 month - 3 year old group. She has been an educator for 12 years starting as a preschool teacher assistant. Currently, she is a Chicago Public Schools Counselor. Jerilynn’s vision is to make reading fun and exciting to the earliest of ages. She’s looking forward to building new relationships and working with the babies!



Burst Into Books

Group 2 Book Club Leader (4 - 7 Years Old)

Sigourney Starks  was born and raised on Chicago’s south side. Sigourney has been in the education field for eight years. She’s taught kindergarten up to high school. In addition to being a Learning Specialist, she’s most proud about being a mother. She has an amazing, cool, and intelligent 9 year old son who is her everything. Sigourney believes the purpose of life is to live a life of intention and in doing so she wants to ensure love, laughter, and learning are on the agenda each day. Today a reader, tomorrow a leader! 



Burst Into Books

Group 3 Book Club Leader (8-10 Years Old)

Natalie McKnight is excited to be working with our children to further their knowledge and familiarity with literature and words in both fiction and non-fiction stories. As a 1st and 2nd grade teacher, Natalie sees first hand the importance of being a well rounded fluent reader. Natalie looks forward to playing games, tackling story structure and comprehension with the 8, 9 and 10 year olds. In addition, Natalie’s experience extends to high school with spoken word and poetry workshops and theater as well. She ready for readers and hopes they are ready for the ride they will take through pages, phrases and the written word.

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Burst Into Books

Group 4 Book Club Leader (11-13 Years Old)

Dana Posley is a Reading Guide for 11-13 year olds. She was born and raised on the west side of Chicago. She is a wife and mother of 4 beautiful children, two recent college graduates, a college freshman and a sixth grader.  Dana’s profession is Clinical Research Coordinator at Northwestern University. As Reading Guide, Dana combines her love for books with her desire to encourage and empower every reader to expand their minds and outlook on life. 


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Burst Into Books

Group 5 Book Club Leader (High School Young Ladies)

Bessina Willoughby is Burst Into Books’ Reading Guide for the high school girls.  She’s worked with children all of her life. Bessina has a love for reading and is an avid reader.  She works for DCFS and will soon retire. She’s always felt that if she could share her passion of reading to our young people, it would truly be a blessing.  Bessina is excited about working with the young ladies.



Burst Into Books

Group 5 Book Club Leader (High School Young Men)

Brent comes to Burst Into Books as an experienced Educator, Community Organizer, Writer and Speaker. He is the Group 5 Book Club Leader for the high school males. Currently he serves as a Fellow with Educators For Excellence which works adamantly on policy that is advanced by teacher driven change.  Prior to that role, he served on the Faculty with Chicago Collegiate Charter School. There he founded Woke Academy which increased enrollment and retention rates and also enhanced learning as it relates to civics and African American Studies. Recently, Woke Academy was recognized by The Obama Foundation for its strong efforts in successfully engineering experimental learning.  Brent received his education from the City Colleges of Chicago, Alcorn State University, and Northeastern Illinois University. 


In  2014, Brent was a member of the Young People For Fellow, a youth leadership development, and has worked with the United African Organization, Action Now, Jane Addams Senior Caucus, and was selected by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to serve as a law clerk with the Juvenile Detention Center.


Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Brent recognized early on that he had a strong passion for youth development and issues impacting communities of color. He enjoys plays and museums, is an avid reader, loves dining, traveling, swimming and spending time with friends and family. 


11001 S. Michigan Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60628

© 2019 - 2020. All rights reserved, Burst Into Books. 

Impacting the lives of children and families through literacy

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