In 2007, when Brooke Taylor was 16 and looking for work, she reached out to family friends Kristofer and Rita Sippel, the founders of San Tan Charter School in Gilbert.
The Sippels hired her as an after-care teacher at the school’s original location at Mission Church off Elliot Road.
And when the Sippels moved it to Higley and Ray Roads, Brooke not only stayed with the after-care program but became an assistant for the preschool, kindergarten and first grade classrooms.
Fast forward 13 years and her career has blossomed at San Tan Charter School.
Since fall of 2018, Taylor has been a full-time guidance counselor at San Tan Charter School’s Power campus.
For four years in that time period, she was earning a degree in psychology at the University of Oregon but never forgot the Sippels.
“When I returned from Oregon in 2013, I underwent training for the Motor Cognition program which is a program created by Beljan Psychological Services and is designed for children who struggle with inattention, impulsivity, planning and organization, as well as fine and gross motor skills,” Taylor said.
She was the program lead and facilitator from 2013 to 2018, just before San Tan Charter School moved into its current Power Campus building.
Overlapping with that time frame, she also was the art department lead and teacher from 2015 to 2018 and started her counselor role part-time.
In addition to her counselor duties, Taylor also started the swim program at San Tan Charter and has been the program’s director and head coach since 2017.
“I have been swimming competitively since I was 7 and with a little loving push from my assistant principal at the time, decided to take that experience and passion for the sport to build a program for our students,” she explained.
That spirit typifies Taylor’s passion for her job and San Tan Charter’s 380 students.
“My most favorite thing about my job is the kids,” she said. “They keep me going every day! I love building relationships with them and helping them along their journey to becoming a successful person.
“Whether it’s helping them plan their future, just chatting with them about their upcoming game, or helping them through a tough situation, I enjoy spending time with them.”
Rita Sippel, San Tan’s chief customer officer and assistant superintendent said Taylor’s dedication to the students make a tangible difference in the overall atmosphere of the school.
“Brooke exudes a love and pride for the students and families that is priceless and contagious,” Sippel said.
Taylor spends much of her job time “helping students to stay on track for graduation, creating class schedules, planning and preparing college and career readiness activities for students.”
But she also addresses students’ social-emotional needs.
And during the pandemic, those needs have increased to some degree, she said.
“Based on my personal interactions with students, I feel this pandemic has greatly impacted our students,” she said.
“I have already had a noticeable increase in my conversations with both students and parents about their student’s mental health and how it is impacting their ability to be successful in school.
“Another major change I’ve noticed, likely because we are a relationship-based school, is that it seems to be slightly more challenging to build relationships with one another.”
Staring the current school year with at-home learning impacted some students, especially new pupils, who she said “were unable to fully take advantage of those first day of school experiences and connections.”
“Now that we have the majority of our students back on campus, I see this slowly working itself out, but it is still a different approach that both our students and teachers are taking to make those connections with one another, especially with those students who are still home-based,” Taylor added.
At the same time, however, she said the pandemic “has brought us closer together as a school community.”
“I see students, teachers, support staff, and parents coming together to ensure we are doing our best to keep our campus as safe and healthy as possible.
“Since this pandemic has changed the way we interact with our students, I feel there is opportunity to have deeper and more meaningful conversations with them, which is how I feel I’ve been trying to help them through this time.”
“We have a great team of teachers and staff who are willing to go the extra mile for so many of our kiddos who need that extra support, whether it be academically, mentally, emotionally or socially,” she added.
Not suprisingly, Taylor enjoys doing puzzles in her off-time, partially “befcause that’s how I view our mind and behavior - as complex puzzles that people sometimes need help figuring out.”
San Tan Charter School is a K-12 public nonprofit tuition-free charter with two Gilbert campuses, a junior/senior high campus at 3232 S. Power Road and a K-6 at 959 E. Elliot Road. Information: santancharterschool.com