Looking Through a Different Lens
Lyndon Brooks, SHHS ’03, teaches fifth grade at Woodbury Elementary. After working as a special education aide at Woodbury while pursuing a degree in engineering at Cleveland State, Lyndon made the decision to change course and enter the teaching profession. He shares his Shaker experience from several vantage points – as a student, a teacher, and now as a Shaker parent. Lyndon is also involved in a new initiative to recruit more African-American male teachers to the Shaker Schools.
I had great role models in my time here at Shaker and I kind of wanted to be like them. So when I figured out that teaching was what I wanted to do, I talked to some of them – Danny Young, who is now my boss as the principal of Woodbury, [Mercer principal] Lindsay Florence, and [registrar] Ouimet Smith. They were all really instrumental mentors for me.
When I was a student at Shaker, it was not always smooth sailing. There were a lot of bumpy times. I was kind of a knucklehead – I didn’t always apply myself, sometimes I didn’t behave well. I was just following the crowd and not making good decisions. I had some very frank conversations with some of those men that kind of got me back in line.
I have students in this classroom where I am their first male teacher. The fact that we have a lack of male teachers in this profession is one thing, but when you add to it the fact that we have such a lack of African-American male teachers, that’s an even bigger issue. I think when you have a teacher who looks like you, you can visualize yourself as them one day. You can look at them and believe that you can achieve all the things that they’ve done.
With the makeup of our district, it’s important for our students to have that feeling. I think we have great role models for students of color – we have great role models in general. But I think we could make an even greater impact if we had more. As an IB District, we want to make sure that all of our students have exposure to different cultural perspectives. I might see things differently from some of my colleagues; it’s not better or worse, it’s just a different lens.
“I think when you have a teacher who looks like you, you can visualize yourself as them one day. You can look at them and believe that you can achieve all the things that they’ve done.”
I think the idea of equity in education is really important. Life is a challenge for many of our students. As a teacher, a lot of things we deal with to help our students make progress, we have no control over. The home environment has a big impact.
Maybe they have a single parent who works multiple jobs, and they have to go with that parent to the job, which makes it hard to get the homework done. Some have very limited access to technology.
Inclusion for kids with special needs is also really important. Having those students feel that they are typical peers does wonders for them. Having other students view them as their typical peers is important as well, to understand that there may be some differences, but in other ways they are a kid just like you. We need to include those students in the classroom and in every social setting as much as we possibly can.
I teach here and live here because this is home. My mother worked in this district as a special education aide, my brothers and sisters all graduated from here [brother Lloyd is also a teacher, in the Orange City School District].My parents worked hard to keep us here, even when it wasn’t always easy.
When it was time to move back here and teach, I wanted my son to get the same experience I had, both inside and outside the classroom. I’m extremely proud of the direction this district is moving, and I want him to be a part of this.