Yes’m, it’s been quite a year
It’s a tossup. Which moment was more nerve-wrecking for me this past year?By Jacob Brooks
Was it: 1) Standing in front of a classroom full of eager-to-learn faces for the very first time, or 2) Bending down on one knee to propose marriage to Katie? Yes’m, it’s been quite a year.
I moved to Nashville, Tenn., in June 2015 to join Teach for America. This program hires individuals to teach two years in high-need schools in low-income areas, both rural and urban. Through serendipitous circumstances, I was placed in Nashville as a “special education” teacher and am working at STEM Preparatory Academy, which is a charter school in southeast Nashville. My initial reaction could be defined as an excited panic with a twist of anxiety — much like I feel anytime the Braves start the playoffs — because I know it will come to a devastating end. But I am proud to say that I survived my first year of teaching.
My first month of teaching? Picture a confused Australian Shepherd trying to herd cattle. To say I was in survival mode is an understatement.
Teaching is a humbling profession. There is nothing like teaching a lesson on slope-intercept form on a Tuesday while accidentally using your teacher notes from the Monday lesson. Then your students correct you while your principal is observing. Why I didn’t throw those Monday notes away, I’ll never know. Without a doubt, I was a train wreck in progress.
But over time I started to find my footing and was able to ground myself in what really mattered: my students. Before I knew it, I was actually getting through an entire lesson in a 50-minute block. Small victories!
The highlight of my first year was taking my 7th graders to Appalachian State University and Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. It was an incredible experience. The students I worked with every day — teaching place-value skills, teaching verbs and nouns — were playing soccer inside Kidd Brewer Stadium.
I do miss my family and the Blue Ridge Mountains, but life in Nashville has its perks. Katie and I are finally in the same city!
We met through the electric cooperatives’ 2010 Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. She was serving as Alabama’s Youth Leadership Council representative while I was serving as North Carolina’s. We stayed friends for several years, in and out of touch with each other. We started a long-distance relationship halfway through college.
She graduated from Auburn in 2014 and is working as a nurse. Being in Nashville together has been an opportunity for us to grow separately as individuals and grow together as dear friends. Plus, she is a great-looking date and doesn’t mind being dragged to Vince Gill concerts. It was from there that I decided to propose in June.
Yes’m, the past year has been an adventure. I have a classroom, and I’m getting married. Life is good. Thanks for caring, North Carolina.