Tre Colbert, Science Teacher
What drives your work, what is your why?
My commitment to my community drives my work. I think education is an essential tool for driving toward equity in access to opportunity, wealth, knowledge, and stability in America. In thinking about axes of oppression, systems of education are glaring red flags, as they disproportionately and traditionally disservice black and brown students. Although I do not believe I am solely responsible for fixing the education system, I would like for the work I do to be a part of a large movement of change in education, specifically benefitting students of color.
What is the moment/event/situation that inspired you to enter the field you are in now?
In college, I did a senior seminar project on the topic of utopia. In that project, it became clear that, despite our different backgrounds, most of the students that I interviewed for the project saw utopia similarly. The way that they described how physical landscapes would look, interactions between people should be, and opportunities despite social difference were all similar. Another similarity was that most people expressed education as key to reach that imagined place. Reflecting on how my views intersected with the opinions of these very different people throughout this project brought me to a crossroad in my career choice—medicine or education. At the time, education felt like the field where I could make the biggest immediate impact. As a result, shortly after completing the project, I applied to Teach for America and began my teaching career.
What do you believe best prepared you to be successful in your career?
I believe that a strong support network, several exemplary teachers, an unwavering conviction, and strong mentoring from great coaches have prepared me to achieve the success that I have in my career.
Who is the mentor that has made the most impact in your life and why? What was the best advice they gave you, and how has it stuck with you throughout your career?
I have never had an official mentor. However, as I have progressed in my career the advice from older professors of color still resonates. The overarching advice was to leverage my strengths, and use discipline as a tool for continuous improvement. As I have gained experience in education, I have internalized those ideas as a way of life. Through establishing routines and teaching discipline to my students, we have been able to better reach the goals we set for ourselves. Year by year, these systems and habits have pushed my productivity to a place in which the job has become sustainable, but more importantly has started to spark the sort of the change that I initially set out to accomplish.