This is the second in a two part series highlighting SAISD's Teachers of the Year for this past school year. You can read our feature of Veronica Stapper here.
San Angelo - The path for Rachal Brewster being named secondary Teacher of the Year by SAISD started at Baylor University, where Brewster was a member of the marching band and the track and field teams.
Brewster, a Lorena native, became involved with working at Challenge Academy, a program where kids are one step away from going to prison.
While there, Brewster made a connection with someone from China Spring ISD.
After teaching at China Spring for a few years, Brewster taught at Lorena ISD for fourteen years. At Lorena, Brewster worked alongside her father who started and ended his career with that school district and still drives a bus route for them today.
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While Brewster was at Lorena, she was pulling double duty earning a Master's in Education with a specialty in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, graduating in 2010.
Another inflection point in Brewster's path to Teacher of the Year was marrying her husband in March 2020. Yes, you read that right. She planned on getting married during Spring Break to have that week off before returning to finish the school year. Obviously, with COVID, she never returned to in-class instruction at Lorena. And by the time the next school year began, she was teaching at Lake View.
Brewster says, "The idea was I'd have a week with my husband before I had to go back to Lorena and finish the year. We made a deal that I would look for a job here, and then he would look for a house in Lorena, and whoever landed first is where we would settle down."
Brewster beat out her husband in finding a job when she was hired to teach Chemistry at Lake View.
"He's very thankful I found a job here," she quipped.
Brewster has grown to love San Angelo, especially the Lake View community, which is different from when she was younger.
"The joke that we always make is that before I got married to my husband, every time my family came through San Angelo, we got lost. So, we would avoid San Angelo at any cost when traveling."
Brewster has been such a great chemistry teacher that this was her third year being nominated as Teacher of the Year at Lake View. So when Zach Ramirez, Lake View's principal, told her he needed to meet with her after the school day and during track practice, Brewster didn't think much of the request. She entered the room, and they told her she won the award. Also, her husband had joined in on the surprise.
Reflecting on receiving the award, Brewster says,"
It means a lot to receive this award. I love my hometown (Lorena) but I would not say I walked away with the best experience. I was made to feel like when I worked there; I was never good enough. So to come here and teach the same I have always taught and be recognized for that means a lot to me. It is nice to work where they recognize you and make you feel like you belong."
It's a feeling that Brewster loves about Lake View and the Tribe from the Northside especially.
"I like Lake View because of the smaller size. You generally get to know most of the kids in the graduating class, and that is what I love about teaching more in small schools knowing those kids. I also like that even the colleagues I work with make you feel welcome, and it has a small-town feel even though the school is twice the size of my last school.
When asked if she would like to give any advice to aspiring teachers, she ended the interview by saying that teachers need to take time for themselves. Her time is working out every morning, and she mentioned that her first class could tell the difference in her energy if she had or had not worked out.
Brewster also advised: "No matter what's going on, you greet those kids with a smile. You bring that joy, and you'll be amazed that it opens the door for you."