Her family told Dawn Collins that she started singing at two years old, and she still is. The University View Academy first-grade math teacher sings at church and other events but recently reached a higher goal. “I got to participate in a singing contest,” she said excitedly. It was through the Louisiana Academy of Performing Arts, or LAAPA, in Mandeville. Judges graded her on creativity for her rendition of “Look What I Found” by Lady Gaga featured in the movie “A Star is Born.” Usually, the judging would be in person, but COVID-19 turned it into a virtual audition. Dawnie is what friends and fellow teachers call her got a superior grade by LAAPA. “You can fulfill your dreams even at an older age,” she stated. LAAPA judges all kinds of performing arts and then holds a concert to showcase the talent, but this year may be different due to COVID-19. Details are incomplete about the show.
Mrs. Collins likes to push herself in just about everything she does, especially about continuing to learn. She borrowed a line from the Billy Joel song, “Vienna,” which says, “… only fools are satisfied…” and added her philosophy, saying, “When you get comfortable, you need to be cautious.” She’s thrown caution to the wind by working on her master’s degree in education through online classes at Northwestern State University. Dawnie’s technology background at UVA is beneficial in the college atmosphere. She says she noticed fellow students weren’t talking or asking questions during her professor’s presentations. So, Mrs. Collins gave her professor some tips on making the classes more fun and inclusive. Now there are discussion forums just like in her live sessions at UVA.
Perseverance is a word Dawnie says she likes to talk about a lot with her students. Math doesn’t come easy to all of them and confessed she had her struggles with it at their age. “I’m not horrible at it,” she professed and reiterated her self-philosophy about pushing herself. What she likes to do for her students is to show math usage in real-life situations. Her first-graders use the Eureka Math curriculum. “Eureka Math gives you all kinds of options and strategies.” Now, we can apply it to what we know,“ she explained.
The current stay-at-home recommendations due to COVID-19 haven’t affected her classes since UVA is exempt from the governor’s school closing order because it’s an online school. Teachers routinely work from home two or three days a week, so it hasn’t affected here schedule. And the current situation hasn’t dimmed Mrs. Collins’ sunny disposition, either. “It’s only different in that we can’t really go anywhere,” she explained. “We’re still staying in contact virtually,” she submitted. “There’s always a rainbow after the rain. Remember how much fun we had during COVID-19? You’re making memories,” Dawnie said hopefully.