Using her unique perspective as a Chickasaw to teach students about Native American culture

Ellen Brooker, a well-respected history and social studies instructor, has been teaching for over 28 years. Being of Chickasaw ancestry and an avid student of her heritage and culture, Ellen offers a unique perspective to her students. She incorporates traditional regalia and Chickasaw phrases into her classroom and believes that learning about history requires more than just memorizing a barrage of important dates – it’s about preparing students for the task of thinking critically, of doing their own research and evaluating problems and solutions to reach their own conclusions.

She graduated from Houston Baptist University with a master’s degree in Education, specializing in curriculum and instructional technology. She is additionally certified in teaching history & government and gifted & talented programming, and is a department chair and winning grant writer.

Ellen notes that the most important aspect of being a teacher is equipping students with the critical thinking skills they need to be truly successful. Being there when “the light bulb comes on,” when her students understand the material and are excited about what they’ve discovered, she said, is her favorite part of teaching.

Among her many accolades, Ellen is the vice chair of the Chickasaw Community Council of South Texas, where she assists Native American students and other community members in establishing tribal affiliation, learning about tradition and seeking benefits for higher education. By promoting Chickasaw culture, tribal involvement, activities and fundraising, Ellen is able to help provide college scholarships.

Accomplishments

  • 2012 Chickasaw Nation Dynamic Woman of the Year
  • Recipient, Outstanding American Teacher Award
  • Participant, Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute
  • Winner, Gold Performance Award for Social Studies