Brakie returns to Gibson Southern with a new goal in mind

Reflecting on his high school experiences, Brakie tries to make his classes apply to the real world as much as possible.


Emilie DeWeese

Gibson Southern graduate Kyle Brakie returned to the halls of his alma mater as the new math special education teacher.

Kyle Brakie is the new math special education teacher at Gibson Southern High School. However, he is definitely not a foreigner to the school, as he graduated from Gibson Southern himself in 2016. He then attended the University of Southern Indiana for college. Before landing the job at Gibson Southern, he worked as a special education teacher at Evans Elementary School in Evansville. He also coaches football at Gibson Southern as the offensive assistant coach.


Southerner: How is transferring from an elementary school to a high school for you so far?

Brakie: “It’s definitely a little different. Obviously, I’m with a much different age group of kids. Luckily, I had a little prior experience because I coached football at North High School whenever I was at Evans Elementary. So, I was working with some older kids. But, the transition has been good. The biggest difference is trying to change my classroom management skills from the things I used to do with elementary age kids in comparison to how I would handle high school kids.”

Southerner: Why did you want to become a teacher?

Brakie: “I just love working with kids [and] being able to see that light bulb spark in their head whenever they make that connection to whatever it is you’re working on. It has always given me a great sense of satisfaction.”

Southerner: What do you like about teaching special education math?

Brakie: “For starters, I love math. Math has always been my favorite subject. So, I’d say that that is why I specifically love teaching it. And then, in terms of the special ed., I just love working with all types of learners, really seeing how everyone learns in a different way. I find it as a challenge to myself to try to figure out those different ways that each student individually learns and to try to meet them at however it is that they learn best.”

Southerner: How do you try to ensure students enjoy learning in your classes?

Emilie DeWeese

Brakie: “I just try to keep the mood light. I think that if you spoke to any of the students who are in here, they would, in the short time that I have been here, already say that I don’t take anything too seriously. [I] try to make jokes when I can and, really more than anything, just try to connect things to their lives. Because a lot of times, I was once that high schooler that said, ‘I’m not going to need algebra. I’m not going to need geometry. What are we doing?’ So, just really any way I can connect it to their lives and try to make it pertinent to something that they are doing.”

Southerner: What is the best thing about coaching football?

Brakie: “The best thing would be two things: one is kind of a joke, one is serious. The joking best thing would be all the food that we get. The true best thing is just basically the same as teaching, whenever you teach a kid to do certain things and they go out and they execute them.”

Southerner: Do you have a favorite NFL team and player?

Brakie: “The Indianapolis Colts, without a doubt. And, my favorite player would be Quenton Nelson. Being a former offensive lineman myself, I gotta show some love to the offensive line.”

Southerner: If you were to be given a superlative when you were in school, what would it have been?

Brakie: “I don’t think [that] I did get one. But, definitely class clown.”

Southerner: Who is your personal hero?

Brakie: “My personal hero is Billy Angermeier. He was a kid in my grade at Gibson Southern. [He] graduated the same year I did, in 2016. He has been dealt about the worst possible hand: just multiple disabilities, grew up in foster care [and] in and out of homes. But, he constantly is still the happiest person on the planet at all times, smiling nonstop. The way I see it, if I can be happy like that every single day, I’m doing something right.”

Southerner: Is there a quote or saying that you live your life by?

Brakie: “It’s a quote by J.J. Watt, NFL player for the Cardinals. His quote says, ‘Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And rent is due every day. Every single day someone is coming for your job, someone is coming for your greatness. If you’re the greatest, someone wants to be the greatest. And, if you’re not constantly improving your game, somebody else is.’”