James Brooks, Ph.D
English, Latin, and Photojournalism Teacher
West Wilkes High School
Millers Creek, NC
NSHSS is pleased to have announced its Top Ten Educators of the Year in December 2012 and is highlighting these educators throughout this year. The 2012 Claes Nobel Educators of the Year awards were presented to ten exemplary educators who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to preparing students for success in college and in life. These educators are among NSHSS’s student-nominated Claes Nobel Educators of Distinction program that recognizes educators who model best practices in teaching, are a positive influence for students and peers, and who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in education. Since the inception of the Educators of Distinction program in 2004, NSHSS has recognized more than 35,000 educators worldwide.
Dr. Brooks: “I believe learning is a dynamic process, an exciting interaction between student, teacher, and content that can result in enthusiastic mastery that grants students agency and voice that can remain long after the school year ends.”
James Brooks’ teaching philosophy came to him literally out of the dark shadows one night long ago. He was a young teacher returning home from a university class when his car got a flat tire. An old man appeared and helped him replace the tire, and Brooks asked the stranger how he could repay him. The old man knew Brooks was a teacher, and so he told him, “Young man, teach good things.”
For twenty-three years, Dr. Brooks has done his best to meet the request of the kind stranger who helped him that night. He uses a variety of teaching methods to keep his students motivated and interested in education. Through the use of guest speakers, technology, debate, creative projects, films, and current events, he keeps his classrooms lively and creates a learning environment that fosters student interaction. The student who nominated Dr. Brooks emphasized not only how much that he enjoys teaching, but how much all of his students enjoy his classes. He shows his students that even though he is their instructor, he too is still learning and pursuing education to this day through advanced degrees, professional groups, and in travel. His pursuits have taken him to France, Italy, Egypt, the Republic of Jordan, Australia, and Japan.
Dr. Brooks received his Ed.D. in educational leadership from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. As a Fulbright Fellow, he traveled to Italy to study the Classics, and then was a Fulbright delegation member in Japan. He was awarded the National Education Association Award for Teaching Excellence, the National Council of Teachers of English Media Literacy Award, and was named a High School Teacher of Excellence by the National Council of Teachers of English. He has been nationally recognized as a USA Today All Teacher Team winner twice and named an Outstanding North Carolina English Teacher. In 2012, he was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.