Teacher receives citywide honor

Published 7:41 pm Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Creekside Elementary School teacher recently received a prestigious citywide honor. Second-grade teacher Rachele Hirsch-Brooks was declared City-Wide Reading Teacher of the Year by the Suffolk Reading Council.

The council is an advocate for literacy among students and provides writing and reading workshops for teachers.

The honor places Hirsch-Brooks in the running for the Virginia State Reading Association Reading Teacher of Year, which awards a $1,000 grant to the winner. She will be competing against a handful of candidates statewide.

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Hirsch-Brooks said she felt “a sense of accomplishment” about the honor.

At different schools across the city, elementary, middle and high school teachers were selected by their colleagues for the nomination. Hirsch-Brooks edged out more than 15 teachers for the citywide honor.

Hirsch-Brooks has shown her passion for reading both inside and outside the classroom.

In recent years, she has implemented the use of Kindles in her curriculum. If she receives the statewide honor, she plans to use the grant to purchase Kindles for her school’s second- and third-grade classes.

“Our kids are so technology-oriented,” she said. “It’s just more fun.”

She has also learned “tailoring the kids’ needs rather than a one-size-fits-all” approach ensures more effective learning.

Brooks has served as the Suffolk Reading Council’s president for the past two years. During her tenure, she helped increase the council’s membership to almost 90 teachers.

Also, she has coordinated the city’s Young Authors student writing competition and two book drives, which donated more than 2,000 books to local children’s shelters and summer programs.

“She has done so much for the division,” said Katrina Rountree, principal at Creekside Elementary.

Reading did not always come easily to Hirsch-Brooks when she was young, making her selection as Reading Teacher of the Year that much more remarkable.

“I struggled with letters, many words were backwards, and my comprehension was horrendous,” read an excerpt from her Virginia State Reading Association’s Reading Teacher of the Year application.

However, over the years, she worked diligently to improve her reading ability and comprehension. She hopes to instill this same passion in her students.

“They need to see and experience that reading is important to life.”

The Virginia State Reading Association conference is slated for mid-March. Hirsch-Brooks and the other citywide honorees will be honored at the Suffolk Reading Council’s spring banquet in early May.