Teacher Spotlight on Miss Brookover
Grades Taught: 2nd Grade
Subjects Taught: math, reading, language arts, spelling, and science
Years teaching: 3 years, including Pre-k
Years at Telesis: 3rd Year at Telesis
Degrees held: Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood/Early Adolescence Education
Certification for grades 1-8
Student teaching program
Completed a semester of field study with a combined 3/4 grade reading class, a semester of field study with a 6th grade class, and a semester of student teaching in a 5th grade class. During this experience, taught reading, creative writing, math, science, social studies, spelling, and even a few PE and health classes.
Very involved with the Arizona Coast Performing Arts Theater and Dance Company
Book Clubs to further challenge and motivate students
Q. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
A. My second grade teacher, her name is Mrs. Sitz. When I started her class, I was so scared because everyone talked about how tough and strict she was — but she pushed everybody be their best – and that’s the kind of person I wanted to be. I want to motivate kids to help them figure out what they want to be and how they can apply themselves to achieve it.
I also have been teaching dance since I was 19. I taught every age – from two-year-olds to high school kids.
Q. Why do you like teaching?
A. I love teaching because I like seeing the difference you can make. At the beginning of the school year, the kids come into your class and they know their basics. Then toward the end of the year, I see them raise their hands with confidence. I like watching them turn into their own people and being able to work independently because now they understand more. They may need me for support and to teach the lesson, but watching them develop the confidence to complete things on their own is really cool.
Q. How does the teaching profession give back to you when teachers give so much?
A. It’s knowing that you made a difference for these kids. Honestly, at this school, as far as buying things for students, I had to buy very little. The families that have extra are very compassionate and are willing to give to other students when it comes to supplies.
For some kids, school is their only structured environment — where they know they will have food and water, and where they know they have someone to talk to who will care for them. Sure, it’s exhausting, but I do think it is the most rewarding profession. I could work a 9-5 desk job somewhere, but I wouldn’t be happy – because it wouldn’t be as rewarding to me.
Q. What’s the most important thing you would like students to take away from you as a teacher or from your class?
A. I want them to think for themselves.
English is really hard. It’s a really weird language and there are some strange rules and there are words that don’t sound how they are spelled. But I try to teach them to just try to at least sound it out. If you at least write it how it sounds, I can figure it out.
I want them to think about problem solving. This is something that I really pride myself on. I feel that when kids leave my class and go to third grade, they can tackle math challenges pretty easily because they understand that not everything is new – it’s all related.
My favorite social studies lesson this year, so far, is when we talked about September 11th – that was when we had our Patriot Day assembly. I liked talking to the children about the events that transpired and letting them formulate their own opinions, but also talk about fact versus opinion. It’s having the conversation: Is your opinion allowed to be different than somebody else’s? As long as you’re a good person, is that okay? For example, my favorite color is pink. Can my best friend’s favorite color be blue? Yes, we can still be best friends.
So, going back to discussing September 11th – I like seeing the kids think it through that, yes, the terrorist group that attacked our country were all extreme Islamic terrorists, but understanding that not everyone who studies Islam is a bad person.
I have a book called “Freedom Summer” that I read and it’s about racism and segregation in the United State prior to the 1960’s. It talks about the things that separate two best friends, a young black boy and a young white boy. At the end, after the law changes, they get to hang out with each other.
So, small children don’t naturally think negatively of anybody else based upon how they look and what they think – it’s formed. What I want them to take away from class is being able to think for themselves and being a good person.
I like to think that maybe by having them think about and talk about these things will help them think for themselves versus becoming influenced or pressured to think a certain way as they get older. It’s not in the curriculum, but I like to tie it in. Some students may not get social education at home.
Q. What’s your favorite subject to teach?
A. I like teaching math because I like how quickly goes. We work on the same concepts all year, in different ways, but knowing they come in one day not knowing how to add two digit numbers, but at the end of the day they do, I find that really rewarding. I really enjoy math and I enjoy teaching history and how it relates to the present.
Q.Who inspires you? Why?
A. I am inspired by a lot of people. I am inspired by my parents who did so much for me when I was growing up.
I am inspired by any parent who is a good parent. I have parents who ask me questions about their child’s homework. That makes me so happy because I then get to work with the parent who wants to work with their child. I have a lot of respect for good parents who put in so much time and effort so that they can watch their child be successful.
Q. Have your prior students come back to visit? What do they talk to you about?
A. This is only my third year, so the oldest kids I had are now in 4th grade. They will come back to my room and say, “Wow, the room is so different and the desks are so small!”
I don’t think the kids are old enough to be extremely reflective, but I do get emails from parents who thank me. One example, there was an email I received where a parent explained that their child hated reading before second grade, and they couldn’t get them to do their homework for anything. But now when they come home they want to read because they know they can read. They said, “You’re the teacher that made the difference for them.” I don’t think there is a bigger compliment.
That goes for teaching dance, too. Some of the kids I taught have now graduated high school. Some of the kids have come to me and said, “Wow, do you remember how you made us make that ballet dictionary? Well, when I went to college auditions, they expected me to know what these words meant!”
They feel that, because of me, they were ready to go out into their field, so that was really rewarding.
Q.What’s your favorite thing about teaching at Telesis?
A. I LOVE the small class size.
I got my degree in 2013, but I didn’t go into teaching right away because during my student teaching semesters, the ratio was about 32-34 kids to one teacher. So many of them struggled so much, parents weren’t involved, and it was so disheartening. I just thought, “What could I do? I am one person and there are 34 fifth graders who are reading at a first-grade level.” What can you do at that point?
When I moved here I still had no intention of going into teaching, but one of my dance colleagues said I should check out Telesis because they cap class sizes at around 20 and they created something really special.
So, I said I would check it out — and it has been amazing because I actually get to meet with every kid, every day. I get to hear every kid read, every day. Every kid gets to solve math problems. If I need to help a group of five students who are struggling, the other 15 kids will be okay. I can do that because on top of the small class size, I have teacher assistants, I have a senior volunteer, and I have parent volunteers.
There’s this really strong network within the school of wanting to support that small, individualized atmosphere. I wouldn’t be teaching right now if it wasn’t for Telesis and that philosophy of the small class size because I know that I can make a difference. It’s very unique. It’s the Telesis Triangle.
One other thing that makes this school special is that I know the administrative staff well and I had a great mentor. Flo Fallis was my mentor when I started. If I have a question about something and she doesn’t have an answer, she’ll find one. I know that I am never here alone if there is something I need. When issues come up, the teacher always get support. As long as we’ve done our research and we’ve done our assessments, and we really feel strongly and agree as an academic community, Dr. Breece always backs up the teacher. That’s really cool to know that my boss is on my side as long as, of course, I’m not wrong. She is an amazing lady.