In Oakland, a first-year teacher is already making a big impression. 

His students love him, and his principal calls him a “gift to education.”

Tray Britt is our Teacher of the Week.

Tray’s fourth graders contentedly fall into line when he says so — something you can’t always say about a brand new teacher. 

He knows how to keep order and keep young minds engaged. 

“He’s phenomenal. In my 15 years as an educator, I’ve never seen a first year teacher be so impactful so early on,” said Principal Jessica Chacon. 

The student population at Aspire Triumph Technology Academy in East Oakland is 70 percent African-American.

Tray says it’s important that his kids have a strong teacher who “looks like them.”

“I believe that is true for them just as well as it was true for me. Because I had a few teachers coming up when I was young, and they were also black men and me seeing them, that kind of gave me the inspiration to know like ‘hey, there’s no restriction on what I can do. It’s limitless,'” he said.

He’s a former college basketball star who says he brings that sense of competitiveness to the classroom.

“I’m looking for the group that can build a balloon tower in 12 minutes,” Tray said. 

Today what looks like play time with balloons is actually about planning, teamwork, and deadlines. 

They might have fun in here, but you’re expected to follow the rules and if the kids are picking up on Tray’s positive attitude, that’s by design. 

“He says the words can’t and won’t shouldn’t be in your vocabulary,” said one student. 

“When I go in the class I look forward to having a nice day with Mr. Britt,” another student said. 

A lot of people are enjoying time with Mr. Britt. 

When there was talk of him moving out of state at one point, this was the reaction of his principal. 

“Ah.. no way. I’m not having that. You gotta stay here with the kids! They love him so much,” she said. 

“I’m more than happy that I stayed here, and I wouldn’t leave,” Tray said. 

Tray says his favorite teachers always expected him to give his best. 

Here at Aspire Triumph, it’s something he does everyday. 

Tray was nominated by a student and her mom. 

They love the fact he also shows up for them outside the classroom, including their sports events. 

If you have a teacher you’d like to nominate, click here.