After nine years of years of teaching at Riverside Secondary, art teacher, Ms. Jacquelyn Collins, is retiring at the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Ms. Collins has taught at many schools during her teaching career. She taught in Saskatchewan before moving to BC where her first school to work at was Mundy Road Elementary where she taught a district specialty program.  She later moved the program to Parkland Elementary, then took a new position at Moody Junior before it turned into Moody Middle, then to Gleneagle Secondary, where she built her art classes into a full-time sculpture program, then Terry Fox Secondary, and finally, she will be finishing her career at Riverside. Ms. Collins came to Riverside in the fall of 2012 and has been teaching at the school for nine years. She started her path of bringing together her passion for art and teaching at the Art School in the University of Regina. She then moved to Saskatoon and finished her teaching degree, plus did a master’s degree for Art Education at Simon Fraser University. Her impressive resume also includes completion of an Industrial Design program at the Emily Carr College of Art and a one-year sabbatical to Italy to complete a program in sculpture.

One of Ms. Collins proudest moments is she was a special education teacher during her first few years at Riverside. There she felt the joy of every struggling student’s success.  While she was working in the learning center, Mr.  Randy Manhas, Vice Principal at the time, walked in and said, “I hear you have an art education background. Would you be interested in teaching art at Riverside?” Ms. Collins was thrilled to hear that news and took up the offer, and the rest is art history!

Ms. Collins has impacted many people and has shaped many students and teachers as a teacher. ”Ms. Collins has been such a wonderful mentor, colleague, and friend to me. I can only imagine how many others she has helped shape and inspire over her lifetime as a teacher,” said Mr. Mike Schoenhals, Riverside’s Media and Film teacher.

Fellow Riverside art teacher and friend, Mr. Cam Drysdale agrees.  “Jacquelyn Collins has been an inspiration, an advisor, and a friend to me since I first arrived at Riverside as a TTOC in the Art department. As an art teacher she has been a true mentor to me. There have been times where I have may have strayed down a wrong path, but she has always gently led me to the correct one. Jacquelyn is always there with positive encouragement, just when I feel I needed it most.  She has left her students with confidence in their artistic ability to express themselves visually and to do it to the benefit of themselves and their community. She will be greatly missed by the Riverside Art department, all her students and most definitely by myself,” said Drysdale.

In her many years of teaching Art, Collins has also had a great impact on her students. Grade 12 Riverside student, Anella Schabler has taken many courses from Collins, such as Art Foundations 10, 11 and 12, Ceramics 12, and an Independent Studies 12. Schabler attributes her post high-school goals to Collins. “As my teacher during my entire time at Riverside, I cannot express how much she has guided me through my journey and has helped me secure my future. Without her guidance, expertise, and kindness, I would not be able to pursue my post-secondary goals. She is endlessly passionate about everything she teaches, and it truly shows that she cares about the art programs and all her students. I thank her for giving me a second home and boundless opportunity,” said Schabler.

After reflecting on her teaching career, Collins admits she is going to miss the students. At different times in her career, she thought about going into administration or going into consultation work, but what kept her in the classroom is that she loves working with students. “That’s my joy and I’m going to miss high school students in particular because I’ve taught elementary students, taught little kindergarten kids, taught grade one, four, five, and middle school students, but high school students are the best,” said Collins.

Ms. Collins had some advice to share. She commented that where students are right now, they spend a lot of time focusing on graduating and about what they are going to do, what they are going to be and become. “But being the age I am now, I have learned that you become many things in life. You are going to change who you are and what you do a lot through life. Life is like many lives, so just try stuff. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work out; the more you try, the more it’s an adventurous and exciting life,” said Collins.

After her retirement, Ms. Collins plans on sculpting at her own studio. She plans to develop a large studio and hopes to grow it so that she can hire other people to work with her. “Retiring is like closing this phase in my life and opening a new phase; it’s been a life dream of mine to have my own studio. I was never financially secure enough though; I don’t come from a background of money or wealth but I’m fortunate enough now that I can move forward to that,” said Collins. She also plans to live to be one hundred thirty.  “It’s just another phase I’m moving to. I don’t plan to sit around.”

We wish Ms. Collins best of luck after her retirement! The Riverside community will miss her!