Humans of Blair: A trailblazer for education

Feb. 8, 2024, 2:21 p.m. | By Mooti Chimdi | 5 months, 1 week ago

Marshall Collier’s journey to exploring education

Marshall Collier Photo courtesy of Gabe Marra-Perrault.

“I owe my life to Mr. Nathan... I saw a different type of Black man… he looked like the men in my community, but this was a reader, this was a scholar. And I said ‘this is who I want to be.’” 

Growing up in rural Edgefield County, South Carolina, readers that Blair AP Literature and Honors English 12 teacher Marshall Collier could look up to were limited. But amidst the farming community he was raised in, Collier’s Black seventh grade science teacher Woodrow Nathan amazed him: the language and literature Nathan used in class gave Collier a different perspective of what a Black man could achieve in America. 

This heavily impacted Collier as he didn’t come from a reading community and began to like reading around middle school. “I didn’t grow up in a reading community. I grew up in a very poor farm community… so reading was something I really didn’t get into until I was in middle school,” Collier says. Aside from getting into reading, Nathan also sparked Collier’s interest in science. “Although I have been teaching English for 31 years, within the last five years I’m so interested in science like never before with the human genome theory,” he says.

Collier was motivated by Nathan to pursue higher education where he attended an HBCU for undergrad, New York University for his Master's, and is currently finishing up a Ph.D. at the University of Maryland. After traveling abroad where he witnessed kids writing math equations on the ground, Collier saw a new perspective on global inequities in educational resources. He dreams of starting a private school where every student would spend a minimum of two years abroad. “From grade 9 to 12, you must go abroad twice… because when you come back you’re not the person who left,” Collier says. 

Similar to the influence Nathan had on Collier, he also hopes that he inspires his students to see a perspective of them in him. “I hope when I stand in front of my students each day that they can see an example of themselves. Because when I stand before my students each day I see human beings,” he says.

Last updated: Feb. 29, 2024, 1:36 p.m.

Tags: English Reading

Mooti Chimdi. Hi I'm Mooti (he/him). Besides writing for SCO, I like to eat and run. More »

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