Teachers all over the United States have been packing auditoriums to hear Lexington’s Liberty Elementary Principal Gerry Brooks, who has 850,000 followers on social media for his videos with comic observations on K-12 school life.
For the first time, on Saturday, Brooks will hold a Celebrate Educators Kentucky event at Lexington’s Northeast Christian Church, touching on the cast of characters in nearly every school community and the challenges that K-12 educators face. It will include similar themes to those he uses when he speaks in other states: “Dealing with people we work with on a daily basis, students, parents and colleagues.”
In a recent video, Brooks made suggestions for customized T-shirts.
One suggestion, he said, was for a T-shirt that pictured a politician who knows something about education with the slogan “Don’t stop believin” — as in “Don’t stop believing that eventually “we are going to get one of them.”
“It’s the commonality,” Brooks said about the popularity of his videos and appearances. “The same thing I’m going through in Lexington is the same thing that is happening in Denver, is the same thing that is happening in Florida. When somebody watches, they say ‘Oh my gosh, that’s exactly the same thing that happened to me last week with this parent or this kid.’”
Brooks said he especially wanted to celebrate Kentucky educators at a time when they have been stressed about proposed state budget cuts and concerns over their pensions.
“It’s just a stressful time to be in education,” he said. “We’re still talking about lack of textbooks, we’re talking about the districts having to take on transportation, so I’m thinking when they do that, that cuts money from staffing. There’s a lot of things that are cut that are really high quality programs that are affecting our students.”
Many of Brooks’ fans are 26 to 58 years old, he said. The majority of them are women. Many are teachers.
He said nurses and people in other professions also identify with his humor about the workplace.
Brooks said because being principal at Liberty comes first, he schedules speaking engagements on days when school isn’t in session, and he films his videos outside of the school day. He said he keeps the admission prices for his events low at $20 because prices are high for many educator conferences.
When he announced on his Facebook page that he was going to be appearing in Lexington, Ashley Lynn, a reading intervention teacher in Casey County, responded, “Gerry Brooks, you have 27 crazy ladies coming from Casey County.”
Lynn told the Herald-Leader that the group will include staff at Walnut Hill Elementary in Casey County, where she works.
“We are so excited to be able to go see him ... to get some inspiration from him,” she said. “He speaks the truth, but then he puts a twist on it. He says what everybody is feeling. He makes you laugh. When I’m having a bad day, I can watch one of his videos and I can laugh, and it’s better.”
If you go: Kentucky Celebrate Educators with Gerry Brooks. Saturday Feb. 3 at 1 PM or 5 PM. Tickets $20 (with Meet and Greet options at 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM-$40). Northeast Christian Church, 990 Star Shoot Parkway, Lexington.