Kimberly Collins prioritizes social emotional learning (SEL) in her classroom at Virginia Beach Middle School. An English teacher until this year, Collins now serves as Virginia Beach Middle’s first coordinator for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a schoolwide program that helps prepare students for college and beyond. As a classroom teacher, Collins designed rigorous learning plans that challenged students’ thinking, encouraged them to take ownership of their learning, and included regular goal-setting and opportunities for reflection. She creates a culture of calm and mutual respect, going above and beyond to make students comfortable. Students pack Collins’ room every day at lunch to work on assignments, chat with their peers, and confer with her on matters both academic and personal. Collins understands that building relationships with students is the most important thing a teacher can do, and pupils respond with diligence and devotion.
Collins’ focus on SEL proved essential during the pandemic. Collins looked for creative ways to make sure students learning at home had consistent routines that mirrored an in-class experience. She incorporated breakout rooms for peer collaboration, continued to host “Lunch Bunch” on Zoom, and constantly sought feedback from students and families about what was working and where students needed support. Collins published an SEL middle school strategy guide as part of her master’s thesis, worked on SEL initiatives with the district’s Office of Professional Growth and Innovation, and was the first to receive the new SEL Specialization Badge. She freely shared her remote teaching SEL strategies and resources with colleagues, and the district superintendent featured her work in a citywide principals’ meeting to highlight successes in the virtual classroom.
In addition to her SEL work, Collins serves on Virginia Beach Middle’s PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) team, helping develop the school expectation matrix. She has coached softball and started an afterschool running club. Collins is eager to lean into new opportunities, making the school’s new AVID role a perfect fit.
Collins earned a bachelor’s in K-8 education in 2009 from University of Maine at Farmington and a master’s in education in 2020 from Saint Joseph’s College.
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