__On this cool evening just a few days after Thanksgiving, I find Gabby Brooks nestled on the couch, reading a novel with her brightly colored scarf and pink bag lying next to her. This theater and elementary education major has clocked many full days in recent weeks with seven and eight-year-olds at her student teaching position in a second grade classroom. I talk to her about Christmas, why she has a Facebook group about her, and what it’s like to be called “Ms. Brooks.”__
*What are you looking forward to about the winter and holiday season?*
Christmas is my favorite season; we just decorated my room. We have a little tree, and we put up lights and ornaments. My boyfriend’s Jewish, so we’ll do some Hanukkah things as well. I love the winter and holiday season at William and Mary too.
*Are you into Christmas music?*
I have Johnny Mathis and Kenny G. in my music collection, so we were listening to those when we were decorating. I don’t know if it’s the same down here, but there’s a radio station back home that just plays Christmas music after Thanksgiving, so I love that.
*What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to your students?*
I guess when they do random obnoxious things, like they’ll start singing or humming in the middle of class and I have to stop in the middle of what I’m doing and say “stop.” In my head I’m going, “Why are you doing this? You’re supposed to be writing or doing something; why are you singing Hannah Montana?” Just the weird things they do.
*What surprised you most about student teaching?*
I hadn’t expected to get to know the kids that well; I’m really going to miss them. They’re all really different. I didn’t know I’d like it this much either. Any time I sit down and talk to someone about my class, I could spend hours talking about each of my students and what they’re good at and what they need help with and what their personalities are like. They’re really cool people — only seven and eight years old.
*What’s it like being called “Ms. Brooks?”*
That’s weird. Especially because some of them don’t grasp the concept [that] I’m not a Mrs. — I’m not married. I have to correct them because I’m not married to my dad — that’s creepy.
*Was it hard learning their names?*
We have them wear name tags for the first few days. There was a lot of “This kid is always raising his hand, I know his name,” or “This one has good handwriting; I learned his name really quickly.” We don’t really have a bad kid in our class; they’re all really sweet, but they’re all pretty chatty. Even if they’re not answering questions or talking to their friends they come up and talk to me, so it’s not hard to get to know them.
*What age group are you hoping to teach?*
I was in a fifth grade classroom for a while last year, so just any elementary level. I haven’t worked with kindergarten very much, and I’m kind of intimidated by them because at that age you still have pant-wetters and things like that. Right now, even though they’re only second graders, you can have really intelligent conversations with them.
*What’s a funny or embarrassing moment from your time at the College?*
I don’t remember the title of the group, but there is a Facebook group about me. I was at the Daily Grind freshman year; we used to go after a weekly movie night we had. Someone made me laugh and I had a mouthful of chai and I spit it all over someone, and then someone made a Facebook group about it. I don’t think I’ve looked at the group since freshman year.
*What are you involved in around campus?*
I’m less involved these days in things, but I’m in Phi Mu and [Alpha Phi Omega]. I’m technically in swing club; if I had more time I’d do it more often, but these days I’m lesson-planning all the time. I love dancing. I hadn’t danced before coming to college, but I took two semesters of modern, ballet, and I’m taking jazz this spring.
*If you could be an animal, what would you be?*
I’d be a giraffe. They’re tall; I’m not very tall. And they don’t have to sleep very often so I’d have more time.
*Least favorite animal?*
Do bugs count? Cockroaches. Sophomore year I got bumped so I lived with an RA in Spotswood. She’s awesome and I loved her, but it’s Botetourt and there were roaches. They were everywhere.
*Favorite number? Or anything lucky?*
I have a lucky guitar pick that stays in my wallet, and I like the number 2 because it seems cute; I don’t know why that is. A while back I decided that was my standard answer.
*Tell me about the book you’re reading?*
This is the “13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear.” It’s my boyfriend’s favorite or second favorite book, and he lent it to me a long time ago but I haven’t had a lot of time to read this semester so I was catching up over break. It’s kind of like the Phantom Tollbooth books: the main character goes to all these different lands. I’m not that into fantasy, but it has a childhood aspect to it too. If it weren’t so long I could probably read it to my students and they’d probably like it.
__Gabby loves people and kids and wants to give back to her community, so it’s no wonder that this senior will be looking for her own elementary school class to teach next year. Until then, Ms. Brooks will spend her winter break practicing by substitute teaching in her home county in northern Virginia, and enjoying the holiday season.__