eptember’s teacher of the month has 20 years’ experience and in those 20 years has felt just about every emotion one can think of. “A teacher’s day is never dull. Some experiences are funny, some are scary, some are infuriating and some will bring you to tears,” says Brad Collins. Thankfully for Collins, a lifelong passion for being an educator brings more joyous days than negative ones.
Collins has been at Peninsula High School the past nine years teaching various science courses to grades ninth through 12th. These included chemistry, AP and standard biology, and more recently a four-year biomedical science program geared toward preparing for a health career. Classes in this program include principles of biomedical science, human body systems, medical interventions, and biomedical innovations and health careers.
“I really enjoy helping kids learn science in general, but I especially love helping them learn all the amazing things about the human body, what can go wrong with it and how we try to fix problems that arise,” says Collins.
The biomedical innovations class was introduced this past school year, which gave Collins a unique opportunity with a very small group of seniors. The class is a research and design class meant to give students a lot of time for individual work. In the end they wouldn’t be presenting to class but rather an assembled group of community members.
“I gave the students some guidelines about their projects but intentionally left them without much guidance and probably with a fair amount of stress,” recalls Collins. While this made him nervous, the final result was a surprise even to this seasoned educator. “The students went so far above what I expected that I was blown away. The audience was in such awe of the level of depth and creativity that the students showed that they were speechless.”
Even after two decades in the profession, Collins is still learning from his students. “The lesson I will take from this is that it is often better to step back and resist the temptation to micromanage students—let them explore and take their work to new levels,” he says.
Collins says it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to rise up to the expectations and dreams of others. It is also easy to get caught up in the tedium of day-to-day tasks and forget what is important. But his best life lesson to share is to be true to yourself and find passion in your life.
“To be truly happy, you have to follow you own dreams and pursue things that make you happy and give you joy. Make time for yourself and have a little fun!”