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You're the best YOU out there. Don't ever forget that.

Collette Toney is a Double Dawg, 8th grade Social Studies teacher, and our #WCW! Her passion for what she does shines through all that she does and her interview (below) definitely gives off some incredible inspiration.

1. What's your story? What makes you unique?

I am Collette Toney, Georgia born & raised. I grew up in a basketball family where my father played professionally and my brother played in college and overseas. When people ask about me, I immediately tell them about my sports family. Growing up in that environment created a different sense of competitiveness, the idea of success, education, hard work, and teamwork. In addition, supporting my brother through his sports career allowed me to develop my cheerleader attitude. I am known to be the positive and encouraging friend that always sees the bright side. That comes from many a nights and dinners talking about a basketball loss, a bad game, or how to improve. You would work to find the positives too! I went to the University of Georgia, where I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., homecoming queen, and a friend to the most amazing people I have ever met. UGA truly changed my life and gave me lifetime friends. Those same friends I met are carrying me through this next chapter of my life with all of its ups and downs! I graduated from my masters program in May (Double Dawg!), and I am now an 8th Grade Social Studies teacher at Dacula Middle School in Dacula, GA. My dad, mom, and sister all have careers in education as well. I love college football, coffee, and Christmas movies. I truly enjoy learning from others in any way possible.

2. What motivates you?

Each day is a fresh start! No matter what happened the day before, I work to not drag it into the present day. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so truly love yourself and others each and every day, and work to make each day purposeful.

3. Who is a hero of yours?

My mom! In August, she was diagnosed with cancer. It has been a whirlwind of emotion, pain, distress, heartache, but above all, hope and perseverance. She has been so tough throughout chemotherapy, and even ventured back to work after several weeks in the hospital. She has truly showed me how to keep walking AND trusting on God’s path no matter the obstacles in the way. It is scary and new, but all I can do is hope and take it day by day.

4. What's your future plan? Your goals?

In the near future, I will be an auntie. For future plans, I am not sure where I will be career wise, but I know that I will be in education whether that is K-12 or higher education. I love working with students! My goals are to be an effective educator and mentor no matter the job. I want to focus on developing and cultivating relationships with my students, and see them prosper in their personal and professional paths. However, in my masters program, I got the chance to work as an academic mentor for the UGA football team. I loved that work! I see myself either working in K-12 educational leadership or headed back to athletic-academic work as a coordinator, and then director. Also, I hope to one day have my own family. Some people are nervous to list that as a goal or future plan—but OWN it! If you want that, share that!

5. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

SEEK to understand. We are so quick to respond and even quicker to “listen” just so that we can respond politely.

6. What is something you feel strongly about (a cause, belief, etc.)?

I am so passionate about multicultural education. Not necessarily sitting in a classroom and learning certain topics, but the educational ability to examine other cultures, thoughts, ideas, processes, beliefs, etc. Some people go their whole life without educating themselves on those around them. Ask questions, seek answers, desire to understand not only your immediate community, but also the global community. Things make a lot more sense when you dive into the history, reasoning, and understanding of other people. You may not agree, but understanding their point is the key.

7. What's one of the coolest things you've ever done?

I spent last summer at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. One day, I decided to venture out on my own and enjoy the city. I went to a zydeco festival, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and scenic park near the river by myself. Exploring a new city alone, with just your thoughts, ideas, and imagination is underrated.

8. Anything we haven't asked that you'd like to talk about?

I always tell my students (and my friends!) to be your own biggest fan! Do not allow your self-confidence to be derived from others.

To contact Collette for networking/mentoring/etc. opportunities you can e-mail her here.

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