Motivating with humor: Social media star visits Dayton Public Schools teachers

Former school principal Gerry Brooks’ videos range from straight comedy to education commentary

Gerry Brooks, a veteran educator, public speaker and comedian well known for his social media videos, spoke to Dayton Public Schools teachers Wednesday at the Dayton Arcade as part of an optional summer training session.

Brooks has over 910,000 followers on TikTok and mixes school humor with efforts to help teachers improve their instructional abilities. Brooks, who is a former school principal from Lexington, Kentucky, said he likes his current gig a lot more.

“I use the humor of what they go through on a daily basis and challenge them with a topic,” Brooks said. “Like, I’ll do a video about a crazy parent and give them some ideas of how they can deal with it.”

Brooks spent six years in the classroom, two years as an intervention specialist and 12 years as an administrator, according to his website.

But he gained nationwide fame when he started to share his one-man comedy bits, in an exaggerated southern drawl, about daily life in America’s schools. He mixes skits like “The real reason your child’s teacher is having a bad day,” and “The school nurse Grinch,” with serious commentary about educational issues including standardized testing and teacher-parent relationships.

Brooks served as the keynote speaker in DPS’ summer professional development session taking place between this week. There will be four additional training days throughout the 2023-2024 school year.

“I’m just using humor to encourage them and help them walk out of here being better than they came in,” Brooks said, giving parting advice to teachers: “Continue to hang in there, have a great summer, focus on yourself this summer and be ready to come back next school year.”

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