Jill Collins, first-grade teacher, was recently named Teacher of the Year at Phillip C. Showell Elementary School in Selbyville.
This is not the first nomination or win for Collins. She was named Teacher of the Year in 2003, too, although she is modest in accepting the accolades.
“I just do what I do. I love what I do and it’s not to impress anyone. I enjoy seeing the growth in the kids. Being Teacher of the Year isn’t my ‘thing’ or my goal, but it’s exciting and I’m proud to represent Phillip C. Showell,” she said.
Collins, whose background is in art and education, always new she wanted to be a teacher. While growing up in Wilmington, she would come home and continue to play school. She has been a first-grade teacher at the school for 11 years and has seen many changes over the years in both the expectations of her students and the students themselves.
“The trend is every year for the standards to be higher,” she said. “You’ll see that things that were a second-grade level are now for first grade. It used to be you come in and do what you love to do and have a great day. It was much more laid-back. And now the standards are higher, so you roll with it and make the best of it. Because the expectations are a lot higher students are more worldly. They’ve been exposed to a lot more coming from day cares and pre-schools.”
Students at Phillip C, Showell still enjoy a 20- to 30-minute daily recess period, something Collins said is becoming scarcer, but she stressed that it is part of being well-rounded and part of them being kids.
“They need it,” she emphasized. “By the end of the day, they need to run and release some of their energy.”
Collins’ first year teaching was in Milford, teaching art to first through fifth grades. She uses that background to keep the strict curriculum interesting for the students as they are prepared for the rest of their educational career.
“First grade is a neat grade. The students go from reading sight words and simple sentences to reading stories,” she said. “And, in writing, they go from three-word sentences to writing paragraphs. It’s a huge jump from kindergarten to the end of first grade. So much needs to be done in a short amount of time, so I try to make it interesting with music and art thrown in. It is very much the foundation for the rest of their education.”
Collins lives in Selbyville with her husband, Selbyville Police Chief W. Scott Collins, and their three daughters. She is now eligible for District Teacher of the Year, which was to be decided on Wednesday, April 16, after Coastal Point deadline. The district teacher of the year is eligible to compete at the state level and can go on to compete for national honors.