With almost 20 years of experience lecturing inside the classrooms of , Greg Colt is the sarcastic vocabulary master that rules the school.
As I roam down the Ralston halls, his voice, like a bellowing warden, can be heard clear across the schoolyard as he shouts out endearing nicknames to students. “A&W,” “Buzz” and “Zippy” are just a few of the affectionate pet names he’s labeled his students. He believes kids like to be recognized as human beings and identifying with the students in this way cements the relationships. The cement is strong, because it’s these names the children remember years after leaving the classroom.
With just one interview under his belt, Greg Colt launched his career at Ralston in an organized rehabilitation classroom teaching troubled youth. He now teaches English and creative writing. While children at this age are often searching for their individuality by pushing away, Greg goes the extra mile to capture each spirit. He grabs their attention by throwing away the cut and dry worksheets and connects to each student by offering useful criticism in lengthy essay critiques. This willingness to go above and beyond stems from two places: frustration from his own teachers as an adolescent and wisdom acquired from former professor Michael Rubin of San Francisco State University. Greg has shaped his curriculum to “connect the literature to the living world.”
The living world today is flooded with modern technology impacting teachers across the world. Mr. Colt is among them as he looks to his SMARTboard and exclaims, “It’s a brilliant solution to a problem I don’t have.”
He goes on to to explain how technology has facilitated his teachings by having instant access to broad resources.
With technology making the two-way street between teachers and students easier, he says, “The students have become excuse proof.” It’s a stark contrast from 20 years ago, when the only explanation for not turning in a paper was, “My dog ate it.” With his no-nonsense approaches to teaching, students are often reminded what constructive discipline is like while writing “sentences” and receiving trash duty if you don’t “get off his grass”!
Whether you love to hate him or hate to love him, this unforgettable fedora-wearing teacher has become a legend at the top of Ralston Avenue. If you don’t believe me, venture to Facebook, where more than 600 people have “liked” his fan page.
As each year passes and cement on another batch of relationships hardens, he tells me teaching is extremely rewarding and he’s incredibly proud.