Columbia High teacher is one of over 300 new teachers starting this fall

Positivity. Relatability. Mentorship. A genuine sense of connection.

These are all things one Columbia High School marketing teacher hopes to offer DeKalb County School District (DCSD) during the 2018-2019 school year.

His ultimate goal? Making the world a better place by positively influencing students.

“Growing up, we all remember those best teachers—the ones who had the most impact on us. I want to be one of those teachers,” said Taj Red, one of the newest hires at Columbia High.

Red is one of over 300 new teachers at DCSD that were hired throughout spring and summer of 2018.

Though he is just 22 years-old and is new to the profession, Red has spent plenty of time mentoring peers through Georgia Southern University’s Collegiate 100 program. He plans to bring those skills—along with skills learned while obtaining his marketing and logistics degree—to Columbia High School students.

“As the president of Collegiate 100, we went out to schools and got involved with kids,” Red said. “I want to make sure my students know about core values and being professional. It’s great to be smart, but you need to know other things—things you don’t necessarily learn through schoolwork.”

Mr. Red hangs posters on bulletin boardAccording to Red, such skills include how to get a job, how to make valuable connections, how to get plugged into different social and professional circles, as well as how to generally meet new people. While he will be teaching a rigorous marketing curriculum, he concurrently plans to encourage students to get involved at Columbia High in any way possible, be it through Beta Club, Future Business Leaders of America, school government, sports, and any other club that centers around building relationships.

“It’s important to be involved and meet new people. You can know as much as you want, but if you don’t have connections, you won’t make it far in life,” Red said.

Many might consider Red’s young age as something that puts him at a disadvantage with students. He claims the opposite, stating that being 22 years-old makes him more relatable and able to engage students in the learning process.

“Students may be able to understand me more than someone who is maybe, 40 or 50 years-old,” Red said. “Students may look at me like I’m one of them, but from day one, I’ll also say, ‘Look, I’m 22 years-old, and the last time I checked, I’m the oldest person in the room.’ I’ll try to be nice as possible, but not a pushover.”

Another attribute Red hopes to utilize is genuine positivity. He considers teaching one of the most important professional endeavors because of its far-reaching consequence and influence.

“Teachers aren’t as appreciated as they should be because of things like salary. But they do a lot for kids,” Red said. “A teacher can be the biggest influence in someone’s life. I want to be that positive influence.”

Red remembers one particular teacher from high school that made a difference in his approach to education. The teacher taught a college prep class and many students were not fond of her teaching style, claiming she was not very nice and hard to get along with. According to Red, however, this teacher’s discipline and direct approach did more to prepare students for college and the world beyond than any other he encountered.

“I really admired what she did,” Red said. “She made a positive influence, even though she wasn’t necessarily the nicest person.”

Things Red hopes to learn more about is how to appropriately discipline students.

Positivity is an important term in Red’s life and one he hopes to adequately relate to students during the 2018-2019 school year. With the right amount, he says, people can make a difference in the lives of others.

“We have to help each other in today’s society, and I want to impact as many lives as I can, while I can,” Red said. “I want to see more people doing the right thing in life, going down the right path—I never want to see the wrong, but you can’t help it today. It’s easy to go down the other path, the wrong path. But there are many things we can do to help people at a young age, and encourage them to do at a young age.”

Red joined other teachers at Columbia High School the week of July 30 to set up his classroom and become acclimated with the building, as well as his new colleagues. He remains eager to begin the school year and begin setting a positive example for students.

“I’m already starting to make connections, reach out to people, and find people to grow with,” Red said.