Heroes Among us – Dr. Tina Brookes

She doesn’t have the cleanest car in town.  Her unrelenting schedule doesn’t really afford her the time to tidy it up like she should and probably desires.  Though she is not poor, she also doesn’t own the fanciest home in town.  Deciding to serve children doesn’t usually result in considerable wealth.  She may not have the most elegant office with a great view.  But she wouldn’t want that if they offered it to her.  This is because Dr. Tina Brookes is a true American hero.

I keep using the title of Dr. even though she has told me not to.  This is because I know how hard she worked to earn her Ph.D last year.  I imagine maintaining a 4.0 at one of North Carolina’s most respected universities was pretty tough too.  I do this also because I hold her in high regard as you may be able to tell by now.

I have known Dr. Brookes for some time now and worked with her on some pretty big projects.  I know that she has selflessly served others across our great land and in other countries when acts of violence, natural disasters and other tragedies have ripped the lives of beautiful children from their parents and tragically taken fathers and mothers from their young children.  I have seen how hard she works to try to address bullying, the threats of violence and the dangers posed by tornadoes in her communities’ schools.  I have seen her struggle with tragic loss in her personal life and have admired her strength as she uses her training, education and compassion to help others try to cope with similar losses.

But until I strained to read her dissertation through flowing tears, I did not fully comprehend what a hero Dr. Brookes really is.  I am still a bit miffed at her for not warning me about the power of her dissertation.  Getting real choked up from time to time on a flight from Atlanta to Seattle, I would have read her wonderful dissertation in the privacy of my own home had I had forewarning. But as a writer, I understand why she did not warn me and must admit it was better that she surprised me that way.  Dr. Brookes is not the kind of person you can stay mad at anyway. 

Her dissertation explored what happens when those who are trained in critical incident debriefing techniques help close friends and relatives cope with tragedy.  Reading her work reminded me of how easy and common it is for us to be in the company of amazing people and not realize it.  That is one of the things about life that has never ceased to amaze me.  Her dissertation reminded me of this once again.

I can forgive this truly amazing and outstanding woman for surprising me like this as long as she can forgive me for calling such a good friend Doctor.

About Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a non-profit school safety center. The author of 27 books on school safety, Michael’s campus safety work has taken him to 11 countries over the past 34 years.