Educator Spotlight: Dr. Dawn Brooks

Network Collaboration and Learning

Throughout the year, RISE will be shining a light on some of the many talented educators we partner with to achieve our mission of ensuring all students graduate with a plan and the skills and confidence to achieve college and career success.

This month we learn more about Dr. Dawn Brooks, Principal at Middletown High School.

Q: What led you to get into the field of education? 

A: I have to admit that I had not planned to become an educator and that the field of education actually chose me. It all began with my experience as a Teach for America corps member in the South Bronx led me onto my path as an educator. I learned a great deal about myself and the world around me from my students, who represented a variety of countries across the globe. My students in the South Bronx challenged me to be innovative, empathetic, and equitable as an educator.

Q: Why did you choose to become an educator?

A: Opportunities to change the trajectory of lives through patience, laughter, discipline, and love influenced my decision to stay in the field of education. I truly value my relationships with students, staff, families, and community members, and I love working alongside other educators who are dedicated and determined to take the action needed to remove obstacles so that ALL learners are empowered and can continue to thrive.

Q: Who was an educator that inspired and shaped you?

A: My high school Spanish teacher, the late Christine Marselli LaRosa, was a huge inspiration to me. She was a brilliant multi-lingual Spanish teacher, a local and international servant leader, and had an unmatched talent for engaging any student with genuine love and enthusiasm. She put lifelong learning at the center of her teaching and taught me to love life by experiencing it through international travel, world languages, and world cultures. From her, I learned the value of experiential learning, which has been the foundation of the learning experiences I have designed for my students both inside and outside of the classroom over the course of my career. I truly admired her compassion, vibrant spirit, and unwavering dedication to serving ALL students with unconditional love. Her encouragement, support, mentorship, and leadership guided me toward an opportunity to develop my purpose in life and to make meaningful and memorable learning opportunities accessible to future generations of learners.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: When I do have an opportunity to take a break from my work as a school leader, I spend as much time with my daughter traveling internationally, breaking out of escape rooms, or just taking it easy with 1000+ piece jigsaw puzzles.

Q: What’s something you’ve learned or borrowed from another RISE Network partner?

A: One of the best things about being a part of the RISE network is having access to so many knowledgeable and talented educators who continuously contribute to my growth.

Q: What’s one of your proudest accomplishments as an educator?

A: I am especially proud of leading a team that exhibited resilience and persistence during the COVID-19 pandemic. We could have fallen victim to the circumstances of a disruptive time, but we boldly faced adversity and with the support of our RISE network partners, we were able to build new systems to meet the individual needs of our students, families, and educators.

If you are interested in participating in an Educator Spotlight or nominating a fellow educator to be highlighted please fill out this form.