Sunset Elementary is where the sun shines for hometown teacher Brooke Hankins |

Sunset Elementary is where the sun shines for hometown teacher Brooke Hankins

Sunset Elementary School teacher Brooke Hankins with second-grade students Talilah Thomas, left, and Matthew Rawlins.
Sunset Elementary School/courtesy
Students in the Spotlight Sunset Elementary School second-grade teacher Brooke Hankins choose to highlight two of the students in her class —Talilah Thomas and Matthew Rawlins. "I picked Talilah, because she has been home-schooled. This is her first year in a public school. Talilah brings a smile to all of us around her each day," Hankins said. "I picked Matthew, because I love his determination, and his smile brightens my day."

Each student explained what they love about school.

What is your favorite subject and why? Talilah: Math, because you can add and subtract and learn lots of things. Matthew: Math, because I like the challenging problems.

What do you like the most about your school? Talilah: My teacher. Matthew: The teachers teaching us. Describe the interests and activities you enjoy outside of school. Talilah: I like to swing on the swings, gymnastics, and dance. Matthew: I like to go to the park, ride bikes, and go to the Boys & Girls Club.

CRAIG — When it came to choosing where to launch her career, one Moffat County elementary school teacher knew there’s no place like home.

“Moffat County and Sunset are my home,” said Brooke Hankins, who teaches second-grade at Sunset Elementary School. “This is where I grew up and went to school. I don’t think it gets much better than a small rural district feeling. My daughter gets to play with neighbor kids at the park or walk home from school. You can’t beat that.”

The Craig Press caught up with Hankins recently to ask her career and philosophy of education.

Craig Press: What were you like as a student?

Hankins: I think for the most part, I was pretty quiet and the pretty average student who kind of flew under the radar. My high school teachers might tell you I was a bit more chatty in my older years.

How has your education, training, and work experience qualified you for your role?

I think my years in the district before teaching and student teaching prepared me more than my college classes. I had an awesome mentor for my student teaching and amazing co-workers at Sunset who supported me, too. Real life settings prepared me most.

What do you do if your students don’t “get it?”

Well, we try again. We practice. We may try different strategies or use different learning styles. I also tend to repeat myself a lot!

If a visitor came to your classroom or office and took a photo, what would he or she see in that photo?

They would see a colorful room filled with lots of anchor charts and kids working together, enjoying their time at school.

Sunset Elementary School second-grade teacher Brooke Hankins dresses for a special event at the school. (Courtesy Photo)

How do you measure your success as an educator?

I tend to do a lot of quick checks and exit tickets. Our DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) tests help a lot. Also, if I have kids using and noticing what we have learned already. A hug, high-five, and/or smile also makes me feel pretty successful.

How are you involved in the community outside school?

I don’t know that I am really involved in outside things in my community. However, I do try to be helpful and kind in any way I can, whether it’s putting carts back at the store, or picking up trash, or holding a door open.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?

Teaching is no walk in the park, but I love what I do every day. And I love my second-graders!

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or

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