Meet Mrs. Whitt: She might just be Florida’s 2023 teacher of the year

In addition to becoming her school's teacher of the year, she also became Gilchrist County’s teacher of the year just a few weeks later.
Published: Jul. 10, 2022 at 11:31 PM EDT
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BELL, Fla. (WCJB) - Brooke Whittington has been a teacher at Bell Elementary for 7 years.

Teaching was no stranger to her. Just 11 days after her mother got hired as a teacher at Bell Elementary, that’s when she had Brooke. So she said she was born to be a teacher.

She’s mom by night, but Mrs. Whitt by day.

“My family is my world,” she said.

She’s a mother of four, but she treats her 50, 4th grade students no different than her own.

“She’s a hands-on mother and a hands-on teacher,” said Peggy Hilliard, Brooke’s mother.

“When a kid walks into my room, my goal is to make them feel safe and cared for. I want them to know that the second they walk in, they are automatically loved,” Brooke said.

For that, her school recognized her as teacher of the year in January.

Just weeks later, she also became Gilchrist County’s teacher of the year.

“We are so blessed. She wanted to be a teacher when she was very young, and she followed right straight through,” Hilliard said.

“When she steps on the high school campus, where the kids that have had her in the past, they run up to her and say hi. She just has that connection with kids and to see that be rewarded is pretty awesome,” said Joey Whittington, Brooke’s husband.

Her connection with her students is like no other and that showed when she was announced as one of the five finalists for the state’s teacher of the year.

“My kids were in tears. For them to have such an emotional experience whenever they announced me...just the trust and the bond that happens between myself and my kiddos is amazing.”

It’s a bond that she said is everlasting.

“When a child loves you, learning will happen. Rita Pearson once said that kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Brooke and her family are heading to Orlando this week where the 2023 Florida teacher of the year will be announced on Thursday.

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