Brooke’s Books

Every now and then, you meet
someone truly special who touches your
heart in such a way that you know this
is someone you will always remember.

Brooke Ashton Cambron, former
Midlothian High School senior was that
type of person. Although she died in the
spring of 2007, Brooke left her mark on
many people she knew. Now, Brooke’s
Book Nook gives our community in
Midlothian the opportunity to remember
her. Brooke’s Book Nook is the vision
of two teachers, Amber Hale and Sherry
Almand, along with the leadership of two
former students, Jayelyn Johnson and
Chelsea Jordan.

“We really loved Brooke and wanted
to honor her memory,” Amber stated.
“Brooke was very special to us personally
because of our involvement with her. We
made a promise to her parents Shawn
and Donna, after Brooke passed away
that we wanted to do something to keep
her memory alive. So, Brooke’s Books
is what came out of that promise to the
Cambron family.”

Amber and Sherry had a vehicle to
fulfill that promise as teachers of family
consumer sciences at the high school,
and sponsors of FCCLA (Family, Career
and Community Leaders of America),
the leadership organization that goes with
that discipline of education. The FCCLA,
formerly known as Future Homemakers
of America, is an organization that
focuses on family issues and consumer
science education. Brooke became a
member the first year it started. Amber
stated, “She helped us write an MEF
(Midlothian Education Foundation) grant
for a project and because of her work
we received the grant. It was hard getting
kids when we initially started, but with
all of the successes that first year we are
now one of the largest chapters in the
state of Texas.”

Working with Susie Yarbro, librarian at
Meadows Library, the group researched
projects it could do that would focus on
children because Brooke wanted to be an
elementary teacher. In their investigation,
they discovered that in the communities
surrounding Midlothian, there was a vast
difference in the number of books for
children. Sims Library in Waxahachie has
about 50,000 children’s books. Meadows
Library in Midlothian has 3,600. It was
clear that more books for the local
children’s center were needed. Amber
elaborated, “We realize our library is
different in that it doubles as a public
and high school library. However, it was
a great way to raise awareness about
early childhood literacy and to see how
important it is to get young children
reading. Kids have grand ideas, and we
like to tell them that if they are brave
enough to dream it, then we will try to
facilitate it.”

Amber stated, “We felt like it was a
good community service opportunity
for our kids who were currently in
FCCLA and would give them a personal
relationship to the project. That is how it
all got started.”

“Jayelyn and Chelsea did the
presentations in the community to places
such as the Lions Club, the Rotary Club
and the Chamber to raise money,” Sherry
said. “They also sent out letters to raise
awareness for the project.” Because of
the efforts of the organization, there
is now a special area in the library
designated for books donated specifically
for the Brooke’s Book Nook project.
You can easily find them by the official
logo designed by her aunt and one of her
friends. The logo is two Bs with a little
girl holding a book.

Within the FCCLA organization, there
is the opportunity to enter competitive
events that promote personal leadership
and development. Brooke’s involvement
in the organization was such that she
was competing on one of the teams
at the state level three weeks before
she died. Brooke’s Book Nook was
such an innovative and successful idea
as a community service project that it
was only natural for it to turn into a
competitive event for FCCLA. It earned
the distinguished National High School
Community Service Award in May 2009.
The chapter received a $1,000 monetary
award that went into the chapter account
for more community service programs.
In remembering one of her treasured
students, Amber took a deep breath and
said, “Brooke was special because she
was a student who wanted to find a place
to belong. At the beginning of that year,
she was very quiet and timid. Through
the project she did in FCCLA, I saw
her smile and set goals for herself. She
wanted to be a teacher. She knew where
she was going and watching her grow
through that process is what made her
so special to me. Brooke is the reason
this organization is what it is. She had
the most tender heart for children and a
heart for education. It was hard not to
love her, so full of life and love. As a high
school teacher, you do have kids who
challenge you. I am here for them and
that is what makes me go back every year.
You can see someone start off just as a
bud, and at the end of the year, they are
this full blooming flower. That blooming
flower was Brooke.”

Written by Betty Tyron