Oklahoma’s 2019 Milken Educator Award winner didn’t think twice about where she would get her degree.
When Brooke Lee decided to pursue a career in education, NSU was the clear choice. Lee had always heard from educators, classmates and friends that Northeastern State University was the best school to prepare her for life as a teacher.
Additionally, the Broken Arrow campus was close to home and that worked with her busy schedule. “My two boys were three and four at the time. As a wife and a mother, I already had a lot going on. Northeastern had evening and weekend class times, flexibility and fast-track options,” Lee said. “Plus, it was more affordable.”
Raising a family and going to school full-time wasn’t what Lee planned for her career, but she describes herself as someone who has always wanted to get a lot done. “I’m very dedicated to whatever I do,” Lee notes. Now she puts that dedication to work as an English teacher at Will Rogers Junior High in Claremore. And she’s on a mission to make her classroom a place where all students can thrive.
"As a wife and a mother, I already had a lot going on. Northeastern had evening and weekend class times, flexibility and fast-track options."
Lee’s Milken award and the accompanying $25,000 prize is proof positive that she is succeeding. “I recognize that we don’t all learn the same way. Anytime I assign my students a project, I provide multiple ways to complete the assignment.” Lee is sure to give technology-driven, writing, public speaking and creative presentation options that allow students to meet the assignment and express their ideas in various ways.
She credits Northeastern State University for this shift in her thinking about education. Martha Parrott’s math class was the first time she remembers seeing all students being considered in the classroom. “The way her lessons were designed to meet all types of learners – that’s something I’ve taken and used every day to make sure my students are engaged.”
Lee's goal is to ensure that even students who “hate reading” enjoy her class in the long run. “It’s about getting to know them, their likes and dislikes. Sometimes I even create lessons with certain students in mind.” She says, “It takes dedication and slowly building that relationship and trust with students.”
Now Lee is working toward getting her masters in school administration, again at NSU. “It’s important to me that my kids see me continue to grow as a person and as an educator,” said Lee. “My experience in the classroom, relationship building, I want to share that with others.”