First STEAM school in the county opened this year in Duluth on the site where Brooks Coleman started teaching in 1963 and where he had his first principals job.
Brooks Coleman, Representative of the 97th District of the Georgia House of Representatives, is a collector. He’s a collector of treasures, but he also collects people, occupations and accomplishments. He’s a 77-year-young man, if mental acuity and his outlook on life are taken into account. An educator by trade (by his first trade, anyway), Coleman is passionate about both students and educators.
Growing up in the Little Five Points area of Atlanta and educated in Atlanta Public Schools, he has seen what hard work, dedication and a love of learning can do in a child, in a school and in a community.
Here’s an example: the legislator, a lively storyteller had a state resolution declaring Feb. 19, 1993 “Roy Rogers Day” in Georgia. Not long after doing that, he got the opportunity to present the award to Roy Rogers at a venue in Dallas, Texas, but he was sitting so far back in the crowd that he could barely see the stage. “I found somebody who was working there and explained to him who I was, and that I had an award for Roy Rogers from the Georgia legislature. Next thing you know, I was seated at the head table!” Coleman laughs. “See what I mean? Very often, you just have to make your own luck.”
Pictured: Brooks Coleman met Roy Rogers In Dallas Texas. He presented Roy with an award from Georgia. Left to right: Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, his wife, Jeannie Fricke, singer, and Brooks Coleman.
Coleman’s grandfather – another man whom he admired very much - was a painter by trade, laying down the very first layer of gold leaf on the State Capitol building in Atlanta. “I remember he said it wouldn’t stick, so they had to mix the gold with lead paint to get it to stay on there,” Coleman remembers. In other words, his grandpa didn’t wait for someone else to fix the problem; he fixed it himself. “My grandma used to refer to him as a decorator, but he’d say ‘nah, I’m just painter.’”
Coleman was later promoted to Administrative Asst. to the Superintendent, Director of Middle Schools, Asst. Superintendent of Management, Planning and Public Relations. That’s right, Coleman was responsible for choosing new school locations (a full-time job in itself), but he also had a hand in redistricting and in talking to parents about the necessary changes. “I tell people I used to be 6’ 10” tall, but I’ve been chewed on an awful lot because of those redistrictings,” he laughed. Now he’s 5’7”.
In his spare time, Coleman earned his real estate license but found that he didn’t really care for the vocation as much as he had hoped. No matter. As a collector of things since he was a boy (he collected everything from Roy Rogers toy sets to stamps to animals – including a Shetland pony he won in a contest!), the man who can best be described as a motivating ball of energy found that he loved finding and restoring old clocks. As a matter of fact, he rescued one from the garbage at the State Capitol during Zell Miller’s time as Governor, and he and members of his clock club restored it as well as 42 other state clocks. The value of the original clock, he soon learned, came in right around $250,000. “I remember getting a call from the governor one night around 11:00 p.m. It was Zell, asking me if that clock really was worth $250,000. When I answered that yes, it was, he asked if we could have it moved into his office the very next day!”
Pictured: Brooks Coleman with the 1870s E-Howard tall case clock purchased by the railroad to regulate train movements from Atlanta to Chattanooga. Members of Brooks Colemans’ clock club and he restored this clock along with 42 other clocks owned by the state.
Although his duties of being a 25- year State House Representative keep him quite busy, Coleman still makes time and finds great pleasure in restoring old clocks. In fact, that hobby has made it onto the gentleman’s 10-year plan, which he wrote out in great detail at age 77. Being a professional speaker and auctioneer are also on that list; he currently travels the country doing both, and loving every minute.
What’s next for Coleman? Well, he’s already thinking about the 10-year-plan he’ll compose at age 87, and odds are, folks will be hearing all about it when the time comes.
Coleman received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Mercer University (Macon), his Master’s Degree from The University of Georgia (Athens), his Specialist Degree from The University of Georgia (Athens) and his Ph.D. from Georgia State University (Atlanta). He has been honored for his service to the people of the 97th district by being selected to receive numerous awards by Gwinnett Counselors, Georgia School Food Service employees, Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia Charter School Association, Communities and Schools Education Association and the Professional Association of Educators. Coleman was honored this past August by having Gwinnett’s first “STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts, and math” school named after him.
He is a member of Duluth First Baptist Church, he’s been past Chairman of Gwinnett United Way, on the Board of Gwinnett Children’s Shelter, President of Peachtree Corners Rotary Club, and has over 30-years involvement in children’s sports as a coach and official. He was the voice of the Duluth High School Wildcats football team for 45-years. Brooks Coleman is married to Mary Claire and they have a daughter Amy who is a teacher at Mason Elementary School. Amy and her husband, Stephen, have two children Patrick and Theresa. Coleman’s granddaughter Theresa attends Coleman Middle School and Patrick attends Peachtree Ridge High School.