Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

Macon County native Jenny Collins graduated from Franklin High School, the school at which she now teaches. Collins was named the 2017 Teacher of the Year.

“Ms. Collins is a Career and Technical Educator at Franklin High School,” said Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin. “She is a committed agricultural teacher who cares about her students beyond the classroom. The demands of this position require late nights and weekends. Ms. Collins is also an integral component of the Macon County Fair.”

Collins grew up here in Macon County and comes from a single parent home, with a mom that was her biggest fan. She received her bachelors of science degree in Agriculture at South Dakota State University. After graduating from there, Collins attended Clemson University and while working on her Master’s degree, she married a local boy, Billy Collins. Together they have three kids, Dakota, Samantha and Branson.

Collins nearly didn’t pursue a career in education, but as she puts it, life had other plans.

“When I was working on my master’s degree in Agricultural Education, I did my student teaching at a small school in South Carolina and hated the experience and made the decision to never teach,” said Collins. “Yet life, had other plans; In 2006 I was asked to work as a sub at FHS in the Agriculture Department and I decided to try it out and enjoyed the students and the profession. I was hired full time in 2007 as an Agricultural Teacher and this year marks my 10th year.”

 

Over the last 10 years, Collins said she has seen little change in her field.

“Education really hasn’t changed since I started but the students have,” said Collins. “With the emergence of social media and internet access, it has challenged how I teach. I have realized I am not the ‘all-knowing teacher’ anymore but wikipedia is. So, the challenge comes to show students that wikipedia is not always correct, that the experiences and knowledge that their teachers have is.  I have also learned that I am technologically behind students and so it has been a fun experience to get their help in learning about apps and how my iPad works.”

Collins said that her day-to-day involvements with students and how they never cease to surprise her is one of the highlights of her career as an educator.

“Being an educator is hard work and sometimes days and months slip by and you get in a set pattern where you can’t see any moments, let alone good ones,” said Collins. “So you have to sit down and take it one day at a time; in everyday you have to find a good moment. For example today, I had students apologize for their unbecoming behavior that my sub told me about, without even mentioning anything to them. That was a good moment. Or yesterday when I was watching a group of eight of my students see what it looks like when 59,000 FFA [Future Farmers of America] members from around the country converge in Indianapolis to compete. That was a cool moment.”

“Jenny Collins is a dedicated teacher who cares about her students,” said Vickie Sutton, assistant principal of Franklin High School. “She has worked diligently to advance the agriculture program at Franklin High School.”

Collins said that being recognized as Teacher of the Year is a milestone in her career.

“I am very honored to be Teacher of the Year but I’m humbled,” said Collins. “I just get up and do my job to the best of my ability each day like so many other teachers. To be mentioned for it is a highlight of my career but it challenges me to keep helping students, to keep my expectations high for them and to keep working on helping to make Franklin FFA one of the leading FFA chapters in the state.”

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