For Suzanne Brokenshaw, teaching is in her blood. Her grandmother had an education degree, aunts and uncles on both sides of her family were teachers, and she herself has been in the field for 23 years. Two of her four children have also taken up the trade.
Brokenshaw grew up on a dairy farm in Philadelphia, Miss. She moved to Gulf Shores 30 years ago after marrying Hartly Brokenshaw, who currently serves as the city’s fire chief. She says relocating to the Gulf Coast made her the envy of her small town friends and relatives. “Everyone in Philadelphia wishes they lived on the beach.”
The Brokenshaws travel back to Philadelphia fairly regularly, and they never miss an opportunity to attend the town’s biggest event – the Neshoba County Fair. Brokenshaw describes it as a family reunion for her, with anywhere from 12 to 20 of her relatives sharing a cabin on the fairgrounds. “I see lots of old friends, even people I went to high school with that I wouldn’t have a chance to see if not for the fair.”
Since relocating to Gulf Shores in 1985, Brokenshaw has taught at elementary schools in Foley and Gulf Shores,
where she’s currently at the helm of a kindergarten classroom.
Before coming to the Baldwin County school system, she taught for three years on the Choctaw Indian reservation in Philadelphia. She says her experiences there and her exposure to the Neshoba County school system gave her a unique appreciation for what Baldwin County offers its students. “We really do have a great school system,” Brokenshaw says. “When I think of my friends and family in Philadelphia and what they have compared to what we have, I know we have it good.”
When Brokenshaw isn’t teaching, she likes to dabble in sewing and crafting. When she has time, she enjoys gardening. She also likes to travel and learn about different parts of Alabama.
Even though she’s been in Baldwin County for 30 years and describes it as “paradise,” Brokenshaw has never forgotten her rural roots. “I brought those experiences with me and shared them with my children,” she says. Practices like making jelly and canning vegetables are traditions for the family, which now includes three grandchildren.
And speaking of grandchildren, spoiling hers is another pastime Brokenshaw has come to enjoy, “I can love on them, spoil them and then very gently hand them back.” That might just be her favorite hobby of all.