METTER - Candler County Teacher of the Year Jennifer Collins will be recognized, along with each school representative, at a banquet Tuesday, Nov. 9 to begin at 6 p.m. at the Jack Strickland Community Building in Metter.
After first working as a secretary for 13 years, Collins said she finally realized what was missing in her life: working with children.
Growing up with a thirst for knowledge, Collins believes her desire to teach began there.
"My older sister would come home from school each day," she said, "and ‘teach' me everything she had learned." That was before Collins even began kindergarten, she said.
The passion she has always had for knowledge is something she decided she had to share with today's youth to somehow inspire them to also become life-long learners, she said.
Collins also attributed her decision to go into education to her mother-in-law, Hilda Collins, a teacher for more than 30 years.
"I enjoyed hearing her stories about her students," Collins said. "I found myself longing for the same contentment I saw in her," she said.
When her son enrolled in pre-K, she said she enrolled at Georgia Southern.
Since earning her undergraduate degree in early childhood education and a Masters in reading and literacy from Walden University, Collins has taught 5th grade reading and language arts in Candler County for the past three years.
"It's easy to see why her colleagues would nominate her for teacher of the year," said Gwenda Rotton, principal of Metter Intermediate School. "Jennifer is a dedicated teacher and works diligently to differentiate instruction for all of her students."
Knowing that her students come from very different places, Collins said she has adopted a philosophy that every student should receive the best possible education, despite their differences.
"It takes time and effort to create materials that are differentiated to meet the needs of individual students," she said, "however, seeing students smile because they succeed is worth it all."
Collins' teaching philosophy also includes the notion that students should be active learners.
With awareness that all students do not share the same learning style, Collins said she makes a point to create lessons that engage students in small groups or hands-on activities.
With an ever-evolving education system, Collins said it is crucial for her to embrace any opportunities to stay abreast of the latest research-based teaching strategies.
Her mission is to provide students with a safe and caring learning environment, she said.
"Jennifer is an encourager and always has a smile," said Rotton.
Tickets for the Candler County Teacher of the Year Banquet are $15 each.