Principal Serves Up Learning and Laughs as Viral Social Media Star
Whether he's promoting a mock app to help educators "avoid all them crazy people" they don't want to see over summer break or offering tongue-in-cheek advice on how to survive state assessments, Gerry Brooks is always ready to mix learning and laughs.
Brooks, principal of Liberty Elementary in Fayette County, Ky., is a social media sensation who uploads laugh-out-loud videos that highlight the lighter side of K-12 education.
Over the past two years, he's posted more than 120 videos to his YouTube page. His viral video on kindergarten lunchroom duty, which he says is incredibly stressful, has racked up more than 1 million views since he uploaded it last August.
"I do not have time to debate whether a pony would be a good inside pet while I'm trying to open 47 Lunchables," he says in the video. "If you want to know stress in your life, come volunteer for kindergarten lunchroom duty."
Some of his greatest hits include videos about satirical schoolhouse romance novels, advice on how to help educators in case of bear attacks, and tips for teachers on helping to get principals out of their classrooms and off their backs.
Brooks told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he spends about 12 minutes on each of the quick-hit videos.
When he's not filming videos, he takes his act on the road with his "Hall Pass Tour," an in-person show where he shares his best bits with education groups and others who want to explore the serious business of K-12 education without taking themselves to seriously.
Brooks told the Herald-Leader that he doesn't let his social media fame and work on the speaker circuit interfere with his day job as principal of a 700-student school that has risen from "needs improvement" to "distinguished" during his tenure. The Kentucky education department has identified his school, Liberty Elementary, as a state model.
"My [social media] media influence is completely separate from my Fayette County career. I don't want them to get mixed up," Brooks told the Herald-Leader. "This job comes first and foremost."