The Fishman Prize was created six years ago as a way to celebrate outstanding public school teachers.
Since then, the prize has celebrated educators who have one thing in common: the ability to create challenging and engaging classrooms that help to propel their students to success later in life.
As one of only four national winners, Noble will earn $25,000 and a seat in a special summer residency with The New Teacher Project, the national nonprofit that offers this award. Three other winners from across the country will be announced throughout the day.
In the residency, the winners will reflect deeply on their classroom practice, broaden their perspective on their role as teachers, and connect with a network of educators who will remain their colleagues throughout their careers.
“Mr. Noble is an outstanding public school teacher who goes above and beyond to create a challenging and engaging classroom for all of his students,” said KIPP Eastern North Carolina Co-Founder and Executive Director Tammi Sutton. “Not only does he focus on developing exceptional analytical readers and writers, but he also empowers his students to use their unique voices and perspectives to advocate for social change.”
Noble has been a teacher at KIPP Gaston College Prep Pride High School since 2010. In his tenure with KIPP Eastern North Carolina, he has been recognized as a KIPP Teacher Leader, a KIPP Foundation Featured Teacher, a Harriet Ball Excellence in Teaching Award Winner, and has served on the North Carolina Teachers’ Advisory Council to the governor.
He is frequently cited by his students as one of their favorite teachers in the school and his former students say his teaching and the rigor of his lessons is on par with what they have encountered in their college-level English classes. In addition to teaching, he serves as a grade level chair, coaches basketball, and helped to found the high school’s Young Activists Club.
He credits his students with driving the rigor and excellence in his classroom. “Aware of the statistics, my students use them not as excuses, but as motivation.They demand that the bar be set higher than state tests; they demand that the bar be set at college readiness because they expect to succeed at the colleges of their choice.”
“Brett coaches two English teachers, leads weekly professional development for our cohort of six first-year teachers, and leads quarterly professional development for all K-12 English teachers in KIPP ENC,” said Principal Kevika Amar. “He is as patient with his colleagues as he is with his students. His impact is felt throughout the building.”
For Noble, it’s critical that students apply lessons from his class to the world around him. “Every single day is an opportunity to talk about social justice issues, whether they are local or national.”
In recent years, students have started a young activist club, attended local NAACP meetings, and joined protests together. While Noble comes from a dramatically different background than his students, he wants them to know he doesn’t have all the answers, he just wants them to learn — and to question. “It’s not a community that I grew up in—but they did,” he says. “I have to always approach it with a lot of humility, but over the course of the year, I see fires ignite. I see them grow into the proactive professionals who will strengthen their communities and lead a life of choice.”