A Cookeville High School Bookkeeper will soon begin her journey into teaching.
Candidate Dusti Brooks graduated from Tech in 2010. Last year, she got accepted into Tennessee Tech’s Grow Your Own program to give valuable staff the chance to grow into teachers.
“At the time I decided to go a different direction to child development,” Brooks said. “So I’ve always kind of had this regret. I just honestly, at this age and where I’m at in life didn’t see how it would be possible to do this.”
Brooks said shes now set to begin classes this summer, then transition into being a teaching assistant this fall all while working toward becoming an elementary school teacher. The program is designed to keep local candidates in their county school district. Brooks said having the chance to pursue her career in Cookeville is the most rewarding opportunity.
“I was born and raised here, went to school here, went to Tennessee Tech,” Brooks said. “My husband and I moved away for a few years and while we were gone I just always dreamed of making it back to Cookeville. So I am beyond thrilled to be able to stay here and to give back to our community. I mean this is part of the program, finding people within the community, invested in the community and so I would say I am that person.”
Brooks will spend two years in the Putnam County school system as a teaching assistant. She said that opportunity to be in a classroom is what she misses most while bookkeeping.
“Having that mentoring teacher and being in the classroom,” Brooks said. “I feel like that is one of the most enriching parts of this program because we are getting two solid years being in a classroom rather than when you’re at Tech and you’re doing your residence. It’s a much shorter amount of time and so I am really excited to have such great, long-term experience in the classroom before I do that on my own.”
Brooks said she does have experience working with kids, formerly being a house parent at Mustard Seed Ranch. She said she had eight boys living under one roof at one time, and the care she saw for those kids inside the school system drives her to be the next teacher to make a difference.
“I had five in five different schools at one time and I really saw how each school provided a top notch education for all my kids,” Brooks said. “Some of these kids were very challenging and difficult to teach and I just admired their diligence. I feel like that background has afforded me the opportunity to bring something valuable, this life experience to the education system. Something that I look forward to being able to do that very thing that they did for my kids, to other kids.”
Grow Your Own is a two-year program, targeting locals who have college hours but did not graduate and candidates with 60 hours of course work completed. These elementary school and secondary math and ESL candidates will be eligible to teach when they finish the program in 2023.