Three Tennessee Teachers Named 2022 Finalists for
Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching
All photos should be credited to “Milken Family Foundation” unless otherwise noted.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner of Education Dr. Penny Schwinn are visiting Black Fox Elementary to talk about the state’s “Riley the Reading Raccoon” literacy program. But then, an unexpected turn of events: Governor Lee and Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president of the Milken Educator Awards, present second grade teacher Raeven Brooks with a Tennessee Milken Award and $25,000! It’s the surprise of a lifetime for this outstanding educator, the first ever awarded in Murfreesboro City Schools.
Raeven Brooks holds high expectations for every second grader in her class at Black Fox Elementary in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She builds a supportive community of learners where children believe they can reach any goal. Brooks is a cluster teacher whose classroom includes gifted students as well as those with learning and behavioral challenges. But when class is in session, every learner is fully engaged in the high-level tasks Brooks puts in front of them, which emphasize reasoning and problem-solving. She runs an intervention math group for students who are one or more years behind grade level. Murfreesboro City Schools administers benchmark assessments three times each year; Brooks’ students grow substantially while in her classroom, meeting or exceeding the school’s annual measurable progress on TNReady. With data in hand, Brooks develops action plans to tackle the areas where she and students need to improve. Strengths in data analysis, differentiated instruction and classroom management help her bring out the best in each student.
Brooks is seen as a leader in her building and district. She represents Black Fox’s second grade team in the district’s Math Network, which meets monthly to identify weaknesses in standards, develop lesson plans and professional development, and integrate math into other disciplines like literature. Brooks was an original part of the STEAM leadership team at the elementary school, working to build a culture authentic to the school and students. The school applied for STEM designation and will find out soon if they move forward with the designation process. She co-leads and coordinates district-level data analysis for the school’s Response to Instruction and Intervention-Behavior (RTI2-B) team, and helps recruit new teachers with the Job Fair team. Brooks mentors new teachers in the school and district, as well as student teachers from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). She often invites educators from around the district to observe in her classroom. For two years, she participated in professional learning through Project Inspire, a joint project of Murfreesboro City Schools and MTSU.
Brooks grew up in a family of educators in Murfreesboro, attended district schools, and now teaches alongside some of the teachers whose classrooms she learned in as a child. She values her community and has great rapport with parents. When COVID-19 closed school buildings in spring 2020, Brooks focused on connecting with families to ensure student participation, recognizing and celebrating parents for their hard work and collaboration. Students uploaded work to portfolios using the ClassDojo app, with Brooks providing near-instant feedback and Zooming with the class weekly to motivate pupils to continue learning. With a second grade colleague, Brooks shared a camping-themed video lesson incorporating reading and writing skills via Murfreesboro City TV, which aired televised lessons from local teachers while children were learning at home. For the 2020-21 school year, Brooks served as Hybrid Teacher for her grade level.
Brooks earned a bachelor’s in early childhood education from Middle Tennessee State University in 2015. She is currently enrolled in the university’s Administration and Supervision Graduate Program.