Building Better Minds


Diedre Brooks teaches Richmond students what it means to be beautiful

Posted at 5:00 AM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 06:48:12-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In Ms. Diedre Brooks’ geography class at George Wythe High School, a group of girls isn’t learning about Egypt, the Land of Kings. They’re learning how to be a queen.

"If you give 50 percent in class, what's your grade going to be? A 50,” Ms. Brooks told her students. "Life is like class. Whatever effort you put into this life, that's what you're going to get out."

Brooks' after-school group called, "Wythe Beauty," invites girls to learn about increasing self-esteem and becoming strong and independent.

"These are not the girls that are straight A's," Ms. Brooks said. "These are not the girls who come to class on time. These are the girls with the attitude problems; that get in the fights. They need to know what it is to be a better woman."

She invites influential community members to mentor the 9th thru 12th graders. She also gives the girls beauty projects, paid for out of her own pocket.

On this day, she's giving the girls mirrors and pens.

"The pens are to write positive things on the mirrors; to remind yourself who you are," she said. "Everybody's queen might look different, but I'm a queen.  I'm a bad, beautiful, thick queen. That's part of who I am."

It’s hard to believe, but this is Ms. Brooks’ first year being a teacher.

"Well, I love them.  I mean you have to kind of connect yourself if you really want to make a change," she said.

It seems to be working.

"I had a really bad attitude problem at home, but I learned to control it with this class”, 9th grader Tracy Williams said. "Because I learned that it's not going to get you anywhere to keep your anger."

"My favorite quote in the world is 'Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender who you are for what you can become,'" Ms. Brooks said.

You get out of life what you put in.

You get the feeling Ms. Brooks is giving it her all.