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Aaron Brooks, a senior in the elementary education program at the University of Wyoming/Casper College (UW/CC) Center, received the Sue Jorgensen Excellent Student in Education award at a recent ceremony.
He is the 14th recipient of the award, recognized as one of the center's highest honors bestowed upon prospective teachers.
To receive this honor, a candidate must earn a minimum 3.5 grade point average while enrolled in the elementary education degree program through the UW/CC Center, exhibit professional disposition toward mentors and peers, contribute to the education field through leadership and community service, and display a positive attitude to promote excitement and curiosity about learning. Based on these criteria, candidates are nominated and selected by the elementary education faculty and staff.
Brooks is a nontraditional student with a wife and two children. After receiving a bachelor's degree in psychology from Colorado State University in 2005, he became a swim coach. For three years, Brooks has worked for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.
"In my first year with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, I knew I wanted to work with youth in a different capacity," recalled Brooks. "I was always interested in teaching, but I had just never pursued it."
Completing his residency in teaching at Park Elementary this semester with mentors Chris Beamer and Lynn Ahrndt, Brooks has learned through his expanded responsibilities and opportunities to do "what real teachers do."
"Aaron has a great rapport with the students," said Ahrndt, Brook's mentor and fifth-grade teacher at Park Elementary. "He always puts a lot of thought into his instruction and how he can make it personal for each student. He has a positive attitude and always gives 110 percent. He will be a great teacher and an asset to whatever school is lucky enough to get him."
Brooks was honored with a plaque that will hang in the center's main office, featuring the names of all recipients of the award.
"I want to make the world a better place," added Brooks. "And hopefully one day, the children will want to pay it forward."