For Brett Allen, being a teacher was something he didn’t always envision as a career. “I graduated from Central Washington University with a double major in print journalism and public relations. I got a job as a sportswriter for the Tri-City Herald in the Tri-Citues area, and I loved that job. [However], my wife got a job in Seattle, and since I had a public relations degree, I tried public relations for a little while at a public relations company,” said Allen. He knew he enjoyed helping others but didn’t quite feel like working in public relations was the pathway for him. It wasn’t until a coworker’s wife– a journalism teacher at Renton High School – asked him to speak to her class about his experience working in Journalism that being a teacher started to become a real and serious option for him.
“I left that [class] feeling empowered that I wanted to be a teacher … talking to the kids, the energy from [them] and getting to know them and relating to them, [made] me feel like what I was doing mattered.” So, he went home that night and told his wife he wanted to leave his job in public relations and start working towards becoming a teacher. Brett also comes from a family of educators. His stepfather was a teacher and principal in Seattle for over 30 years, and both his aunts were also teachers, so the world of education wasn’t unfamiliar to him. However, his experience connecting with students and seeing the impact he could make in the classroom dawned on him when he spoke with those students at Renton High School. A week later, he left his job and signed up for a teaching program at Antioch University. His aunt was a teacher at Kent-Meridian High School, who helped him get a job working as a paraeducator, where he tutored reading shortly after that.
Brett has had a lot of moments where he was able to learn about what his impact has been on students and how he should approach being a role model to many. “I’m kind of a unicorn as a Black male teacher, especially for Black students. I might be the first for them, and I want to make sure I honor that and make sure they have a space and a person they can connect with,” said Allen.
Brett wants his teaching to inspire students to be lifelong learners and always focuses his teaching on relating the material beyond the classroom. He also wants his students to understand that making mistakes is part of our journey in life but learning from them is one of the most important things you can do. “The most positive change we go through in our lives usually comes at the toughest time, like when you mess up … so I hope they are embracing those mistakes, learning from them, and not seeing them as a negative throughout their lives,” said Allen.
Brett also encourages students in KSD, especially Black youth, to see the positive impact they can have on students, especially students of color. “It’s hard to pursue a profession where you haven’t seen people like you, so be willing to be that voice and fill that void,” said Allen. He also wants to encourage Black youth to reach out to other Black educators to see their experience. “Reach out to folks and see where the need for people in education are. There is [a lot of opportunities] beyond just being a teacher, where people can effect [education] in positive ways.”
Article Source: Kent Meridian High School