TEXAS "If you can read this, thank a teacher," the bumper
sticker ahead stated triumphantly. It takes passion to be a teacher.
It takes devotion. It requires patience and it requires an understanding
some students are going to excel in a vocational setting while others
will earn doctorates.
It is why yesterday, America observed National Teacher's Day.
Chickasaw Ellen Brooker has seen all of this in 28 years of
teaching and within her own family. She accepts it and celebrates
Ellen Brooker epitomizes the best attributes of a true
educator, said Chickasaw Governor Bill Anoatubby.
She does more than help students learn the subject matter,
she inspires them to see every situation as an opportunity to learn
and grow as an individual. She helps her students understand the
importance of lifelong learning.
The 2012 Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year recently
came across a saying she loves:
Those who can, teach. Those who can't, legislate. It just
seems to reflect the issues that keep coming up in Texas education,
my favorite saying when it comes to education is 'All students can
We all have perceptions about what is fair and right and
just. What we are envisioning is a perfect world and we don't live
in a perfect world, Ellen Brooker said.
At Southwest High School in San Antonio, Brooker has taught
for 26 years of her career. Her enthusiasm for teaching and for
her students grows exponentially each year.
I am passionate about teaching history; passionate about
American history and economics, she said.
For Brooker, history is more than remembering a smattering of
important dates. It's about equipping students to perform the task
of critical thinking; of doing their own research and evaluating
the problems and solutions to reach their own conclusions.
"The teacher who instructs critical thinking will give students
the skills to be successful," she states.
She challenges her students to not accept the norms of her parents,
siblings, friends and associates. She expects them to research,
discover, read, watch and determine for themselves what to believe
and what to reject.
"I love my parents very much but my mother is a strong southern
Democrat who votes a straight party ticket, and my dad is tea party,"
"Consequently, we don't visit about politics very much," she
explains with a hearty laugh.
What's the best part about being a teacher?
"Being there when the light bulb comes on and they get it, understand
it and are excited about what they have just discovered,"
What's the worst part?
"Some students just do not see the opportunities of education
or how it will translate to a better life for them. They don't work
hard enough to learn and they miss opportunities that could have
been available to them."
Brooker is educated to the highest order.
Brooker has been an Outstanding American Teacher award recipient,
winning grant writer, department chair and respected history and
social studies teacher. She has a masters degree in Education
with a specialization in instructional technology from Houston Baptist
University and is certified in history and government, gifted and
Brooker was recently chosen as a participant in the Library
of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute
and helped her department win gold performance awards for social
An avid student of Chickasaw language and culture herself, Brooker
incorporates traditional regalia and Chickasaw phrases in her classroom.
She offers a unique study of Native culture, artifacts and storytelling
in American Indian history.
Brooker is the vice chair of the Chickasaw Community Council
of South Texas where she assists Native American students and other
community members in establishing tribal affiliation, learning about
tradition, seeking benefits for higher education. Brooker promotes
Chickasaw culture, tribal involvement and activities and fundraising
to provide college scholarships.
She celebrates the diversity of education, even within her own
"My husband, Daniel, and oldest son, Shawn, tried college but
decided that it wasn't what they were necessarily looking for. Not
everyone is suited for college. There are students who will excel
at mechanics or welding because that is where their interests and
passions are. My other son, Michael, is a computer geek and doesn't
mind being called a geek. He will earn a degree in Internet security
systems,' said Brooker as a way of illustrating education
appeals to many different types of people with diverse interests