Student teacher sets goal to be mentor and role model
“Out of the millions of people on Earth, Berea College was made for me,” student teacher James “Herbie” Brock says. “I wouldn’t have had a shot at being successful without Berea and opportunities I’ve had here.”
Herbie was raised in Letcher County, KY by his mother Bonnie Hatton. “I am so proud of my mother,” he says. ”She has worked so hard to help me build a better life. She taught me to value hard work and education. You know, in the time and place where she grew up, education wasn’t always a priority for her and her siblings. So she made sure to make it a priority for me.”
Herbie says having Bonnie as his mother is just one way he has been lucky in his life. “Looking back, it’s amazing to me that I’ve always had positive, caring people in my life who went out of their way to help me when I needed it—people who were not family members but supported me, had confidence in me and helped me find confidence in myself. Often these people were teachers.” Herbie couldn’t start college right after high school; he had to work. When he met Vickie, now his wife, he thought about the lessons his mother taught him and decided to go back to school. He started at Hazard Community College. It was there he met another in the series of people who believed in him. That person was Berea alum and chair of the humanities department Ron Reed. “Ron told me about Berea and helped me find my way here. He was the one person who truly opened the door to Berea for me. And he’s coming to my graduation in December,” Herbie says warmly.
As for his plans after graduation, Herbie will first move with Vickie to Charleston, SC where she will have her turn at higher education. “Vickie has worked hard to get me through Berea. She has paid 100% of our financial support by working 50 hours a week or more. Once I’m finished, it will be her turn,” he says. (Vickie, a lifelong animal lover, plans to become a veterinary technician.)
“As soon as we finish in South Carolina, we want to go home, back to Letcher County. I love teaching, but more than anything for me, I want to be a mentor and role model to other kids like me, especially to young men who don’t have strong male figures in their lives. I want to be able to do for other kids what all those people did for me.”
Herbie will be a gifted teacher. But we here in Knapp Hall predict he will give even greater gifts to the children he mentors and supports in Letcher County. And we bet that in years to come, we will see Herbie watching proudly from the sidelines as students he has mentored graduate from Berea.