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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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City teacher fulfills dream
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Roxanne Collins, shown in her classroom at Patrick Henry Elementary School, will begin her first day of teaching today. (Bulletin photo by Mickey Powell)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Dreams do come true, even if they are deferred, Roxanne Collins found out.

Collins left what she described as a rewarding 22-year career with Carter Bank & Trust - her last job there was as head auditor - to be a teacher.

"I've always wanted to teach ever since I was a little girl," she said, recalling times when she played school in her parents' basement while growing up.

During a break from college, she got a job with the bank and "worked my way up, so I stayed there" for many years, said Collins, who was educated in the Martinsville schools.

But she never abandoned her dream of becoming a teacher. After the New College Institute opened, allowing her the opportunity to go back to college without leaving the area, Collins earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Longwood University through the institute.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in Martinsville recently hired her to be a fourth-grade teacher. Her first day in front of her class will be Thursday.

Joan Montgomery, principal at Patrick Henry, mentioned that Worth Carter, president of Carter Bank & Trust, went by the school one day and gave her a personal recommendation that she hire Collins.

Collins said she did not know about Carter's recommendation until after Montgomery had received it, and she is grateful to her former boss.

Leaving the bank "was the hardest decision I've ever had to make," Collins said. As her dream of becoming a teacher persisted, however, "I didn't feel like I had a choice" but to pursue it.

"It's about following your heart," she emphasized.

While studying for her degree, Collins did her student teaching at Patrick Henry. She said she was impressed that its employees "believe every child can learn, and the teacher's responsibility is to find out what makes them learn. I really believe that."�

"The support system this school has shown me has been enormous," she said. "I feel like this school is a family. We all want the same thing. We all want children to succeed" in learning so they can succeed in life.

"Children are our future. We need to take care of them," she added.

Collins said she loves children but does not have any of her own.

"Now, I'll have 22 that I'll claim," she said, laughing. A short time later, she found out she will have a 23rd student in her class.

She is starting to feel like a parent, though. In buying learning materials and other supplies for her class, she said, "I feel now like I know how parents feel wanting to do for their children."�

"It's like these are your children and you want them to have these things," Collins said. "I want my room to be a welcoming place. I want the children to feel at home here and feel safe."�

Collins did not rule out the possibility of eventually becoming a principal or school administrator. But for now, she is just glad to have an opportunity to fulfill her dream of teaching.

Even with a degree in education, "I know I have a lot to learn" about teaching, said Collins, "but I'm excited about the challenge."�

Of the 29 new teachers the Martinsville schools hired for the 2009-10 academic year, eight, including Collins, are from the area, said Pam Heath, human resources director for the city schools.


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