Eric Colburn is an English teacher. He has been working at the high school since 2001 and is an alum. Some of his favorite things about BHS are the open and caring and humane atmosphere, the freedom for both teachers and students, and the real attention to people as people.
What would you say is the biggest change online school has created?
The hardest thing for me is not being able to see people and chat with both students and colleagues. I really love and look forward to seeing people every day. We try, but it’s so hard to chat on Zoom. In a normal classroom, I would be going up to kids and asking how they are doing. I would have a 30-second chat with one kid and then go to another kid and have a 30-second chat, but I can’t really do that online.
Did you teach anywhere else before BHS?
I worked in New York City for close to ten years, and I worked at an elementary school in Harlem for a few years teaching second and third grade. Then I worked as a private tutor.
How would you compare your teaching experiences in New York and Brookline?
I am much more of a natural high school teacher. The cities are a very different atmosphere. I worked at this little independent school, so I didn’t have the full New York City teaching experience at a big public school. I think Brookline is a very friendly and caring community, and also better resourced then a lot of the schools in the neighborhood in New York. I was a student in Brookline as a kid, and I moved to the Brookline schools in 6th grade. It was not an easy transition for me, but I think schools everywhere have gotten a lot more supportive and nice.
What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of school?
I love bicycling, so I ride my bike to work every day when we are in person. I really like being outside so I go hiking. I’ll hike up mountains and snowboard or ski down them, and that’s always very fun. I like going camping in the winter. I build tree houses for fun. I actually am building a really big treehouse that’s got two stories and that’s cool. I do a lot of reading too. I’m trying to read in French and Spanish. I’m bad at those languages, but I’m trying to get better. I feel like it’s giving me a real appreciation for what it’s like for people who are slow readers or struggling readers.
If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
I’m thinking immediately of all the problems with each superpower. When I was a kid I always wanted to fly, and so that would be the easy one. I want to fly. As an adult, I think I would like to be able to heal people. I wish I could be a secret healer or a magical healer.