VERDE VALLEY EDUCATOR OF THE WEEK: Calliandra Brooks

Calliandra Brooks says that as third grade teacher at Camp Verde Elementary School, she encourages her students “to build a growth mindset which allows them to take risks and work as hard as possible.” (Photo by Bill Helm)

Calliandra Brooks says that as third grade teacher at Camp Verde Elementary School, she encourages her students “to build a growth mindset which allows them to take risks and work as hard as possible.” (Photo by Bill Helm)

CAMP VERDE – If Calliandra Brooks was not an educator, she says she’d have become a librarian.

“I love books,” says Brooks, a sixth-year educator who teaches third grade at Camp Verde Elementary School.

It was the examples she had while growing up that inspired Brooks to become an educator.

“My mom, Mrs. Bradford, Mrs. Cooney-Gotto and my aunt Susie are just a few of the many examples of compassionate, dedicated teachers whom I wanted to be like when I grew up,” says Brooks.

Though she loves teaching, Brooks says that being an educator in Arizona “is hard.”

“Low pay, high demands, long hours, and kids with histories that break your heart” are some of the difficulties that educators like Brooks face each day.

The first time Britta Booth met Brooks, she knew her teacher was “an exceptional educator.”

“She has the courage of her convictions and is not afraid to speak her mind on issues that are important to her,” says Booth, principal at Camp Verde Elementary. “She believes strongly in the abilities of those around her. This makes her both a fantastic teacher and colleague.”

With programs such as Move on When Reading, her third graders have “a lot of pressure to score well on their first ever standardized test, even though they all have different backgrounds and have never taken that kind of high-stakes assessment before.”

What she enjoys most about teaching is “building relationships with my students, and watching them bloom with new skills.”

“It is my goal to help each student learn what works best for them,” she says. “I go home feeling proud of my students and grateful for my career choice.”

TEACHING STYLE

“I encourage my students to build a growth mindset which allows them to take risks and work as hard as possible. We talk a lot about how anyone can get better at reading or math with lots of practice and hard work. I love the Capturing Kids’ Hearts system, and so do my students.”

NOTABLE

In 2013, Brooks was nominated for Yavapai County Education Foundation’s Outstanding First-Year Teacher.

“She makes a difference in so many ways,” Booth says. “She challenges her students to push themselves. She is fantastic at building relational capacity with her students, which makes them want to succeed because they know she cares about them. Her kindness, inclusive attitude, and dedication to excellence all make her a remarkable teacher.”

QUOTABLE

“Intelligence is not a fixed quality. Any student can improve at any skill we are learning. How smart my kids are is really just a matter of choices, grit and strategies.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Brooks grew up on a working cattle ranch outside of Globe and was homeschooled throughout elementary school.

Says Britta Booth, Brooks is “highly intelligent.”

“She is dedicated to the success of her students,” Booth says. “She focuses on the needs of each individual child to ensure they receive the best possible care, both educationally and emotionally. She is also very creative in her instructional planning. Lessons are engaging and informative.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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