ANSONIA - School is about to begin in Darke County, and most families are probably frantic about now on trying to get their children ready for classroom activity.
But Cindy and Keith Burk of Ansonia are not that concerned. They’re used to it. They have a total of 10 children, and will be sending six of them off to school in a few weeks.
Four of their children are from his previous marriage, but he and Cindy have custody of them.
Their children are Abby, 23; Dakota, 21, married and living in Tennessee; Hunter, 19; Darien, 17, a senior; Keith III, 15, a sophomore; Katelyn, 12, a seventh-grader; Dustin, 11, in fifth grade; Isabella, 7, in second grade; Anastasia, 6, who will be in kindergarten; and Christian, 4, who attends preschool at Ansonia United Methodist Church.
All of the children are two years apart until Isabella came along, Cindy said.
“I absolutely love Ansonia School…the district, period,” she said. “The teachers all know the kids. The school was the big selling point when we moved here. I adore and love it.”
As for school clothes, the older boys bale straw to earn money for their clothes, cleats and basketball shoes.
“A lot of the clothes are hand-me-downs,” she said. “One of my brothers has four girls and and another brother has two boys. We exchange clothes. And, there is a lot of shopping at outlet and second-hand stores.”
Cindy is also hoping to check out some vendors at the Longest Yard Sale along 127 locally this weekend.
When school rolls around, Cindy has a tradition of waking the children up in rotation in order to get ready for school.
“There are three on the high school bus, three on the elementary and we will transport Christian to preschool,” she said.
The biggest challenge is homework.
“Keith works hard to get it done the right way,” she said. “Again, the older ones come into play. The 12-year-old will sit and read with the kindergartner and I’ll read with the second-grader. The kids will even do reading in the van. Homework comes first always. We stay within our little routines and it’s not as chaotic as you think it would be.”
Another challenge is keeping up with the laundry, especially when everyone is in different activities.
“Sometimes it’s a struggle for me to choose whose ballgame I’ll run miss, but Keith and I split it up,” she said.
Husband Keith is the sole provider, and works hard to do that.
“He has worked at New Tech Plastics for 18 years almost,” she said. “He doesn’t miss any school athletics or activities.”
And, there are plenty of those events.
Most of their children are in sports, and Keith and Cindy even coached t-ball.
The girls played on Mondays and Wednesdays and the boys on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while the two older boys played baseball this summer. Now, Katelyn will start volleyball, the boys will be in football and Dustin will be in youth football.
And, they all participate in Kids Cub at church.
Cindy said they are done having children.
“But, if I won the Lottery tomorrow, I’d have more,” said Cindy, who has no trouble remembering her children’s ages and birthdays. “Keith has always wanted this many children. I wouldn’t change it for the world now, but as a kid, I would never have pictured this big of a family. Believe it or not, and none of them are absolutely perfect but really close. They share better and have better listening skills. They’re very appreciative, caring and sensitive.”
She said the older children come to the house and help out in school activities.
“They help support each other,” Cindy said.
The Burks met at New Tech Plastics, where they worked, but she is no longer there.
Keith is the son of Keith Burk I of Cincinnati and Sherry Tomlinson of Ansonia, and she is the daughter of Al and Marjorie Hayes of Wayne Lakes.
A big family has its challenges, but the Burks are persevering.
“I used to making big meals and I always make too much,” she said. “Keith tries to cook twice a week, and the oldest ones will come out and cook. Honestly, it’s not that difficult.”
She said their daughters have planted some vegetables this summer, having peas, green beans, corn and cucumbers.
The family can often be seen driving around town in a large, white van.
‘“We had a Caravan for the longest time, but it was not suiting our needs,” Cindy said. We called Irwin Jeep in Troy and found this one-owner van. I am hoping to downsize to an Excursion, something a little sportier.”