Carian Brooks

Carian Brooks is Ocean Bay Elementary School’s teacher of the year.

Named after the 1970s song “Carrie Anne” by The Hollies, Carian Brooks, Ocean Bay Elementary School’s teacher of the year, got a bit of a twist on her own name.

“My Mom found out a family member who was pregnant was going to name their daughter Carrie Anne so she changed it a little to make it different,” she said.

Brooks teaches kindergarten and has done so all of her 16 years as a teacher.

“I purposely wanted the younger kids,” she said. “Third grade and up seemed so big to me, and I always loved kindergarten.”

Brooks did her internship in first grade and loved that age also. But she was offered a random job teaching kindergarten in the middle of a school year.

“I was thrown into it and loved it and I’ve been there ever since,” she said.

The children’s progress is easy to see at this age and that’s one of the reasons Brooks is so happy teaching kindergarten.

“Some of them come in knowing absolutely nothing and others come in as readers and I get both ends of the spectrum,” she said.

“I feel like I can make them go as far as they can go before I send them off to first grade. Some of the kids who come in knowing nothing are readers by the end of the year, and other kids come in as readers and are reading chapter books by the end of the year.

“It doesn’t matter what level they’re on, they’re going to grow,” she said.

One of the things Brooks realized about the young students during this year of COVID is how resilient they are.

“They had to walk into the building all by themselves and they did, and they were happy.

“We had so many fears for them, but they took it and ran with it and are just as happy as in a normal school year.”

The parents and teachers were worried about the 4 and 5-year-olds, Brooks said, “but the kids handled it beautifully.”

The most difficult part of COVID for Brooks has been not being able to interact physically with the kids and hug them.

“They’re babies and they need that,” she said.

That’s another reason why the teacher is partial to kindergarten.

“They love, love, love, so not being able to do that has been very difficult,” she said. “Kindergarten is all about sharing and taking turns. We can’t share or take turns now and it’s very difficult.”

Brooks is married to Terance Brooks, and the couple has two daughters, 8 and 15 years old.

Brooks is a runner and participates in several local 5Ks, she belongs to the HotWorx gym in Carolina Forest and she’s an avid reader.

“Don’t all teachers love to

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