Rebecca Collins graduated from Nyack’s School of Education in 2011 with a degree in Early Childhood/Childhood Education, and then again in 2013 with a Master’s of Childhood Special Education. Since graduating, Rebecca has taken a job at a large public school district in Arizona, where she is a K-3 resource teacher. She is also the team lead for the special education program at the elementary school and the regional resource leader, supporting resource teachers at 7 elementary schools within the district. At home, Rebecca is a wife and foster mother to a 22 month old little boy named Jesse, who is their second foster child.
In honor of the SoE’s 50 anniversary, Rebecca shared some of her favorite memories and the way that Nyack has prepared her for her career:
My favorite memories of fostering are the moments that show how a loving connection has grown with a child who came as a stranger. Our current foster son came to us on Easter Day 2017, and he cried and screamed so much during the first month that my husband had difficulty feeling any connection with him. Now every time my husband or I come home Jesse gets a huge smile, starts squealing excitedly, and runs to give us giant hugs. We can’t help but smile when we see his enthusiasm and love. The joy of these times help us through the tough court hearings, constant meetings and visits, and the unknowns of how long this little boy we love will stay with us. It is a reminder that although parts of this journey are extremely difficult, it’s all worth it to make a difference in Jesse’s life and to be walking in the path God has planned.
Nyack prepared me as a teacher through the training I received in the undergraduate childhood education program and master’s special education program. I use the strategies and content I learned there everyday with my students. Aside from teaching skills, the professors at Nyack helped encourage and shape two of my biggest strengths as a teacher: my positive attitude and a commitment to doing my job with excellence. My professors viewed preparing teachers for real life as more than asking college students to complete assignments to prove knowledge of teaching. They really looked at the deeper heart and mind skills a teacher needs, and I know I have been successful because of these deeper skills and the love for teaching that was instilled by the staff at Nyack. Even the leadership skills I am using this year in the district were started at Nyack when I held a leadership position in the Early Childhood Educators club.
My life as a foster mom has also been impacted by my time at Nyack. My undergraduate early childhood classes taught me how to engage toddlers in learning constantly through play and everyday activities. This is exactly what I do with any child who is placed in my home. Often these children have delays in different areas, and I feel confident that I understand developmental milestones and can help my current and future foster children grow towards reaching these milestones. Even the business side of being a foster parent and working with many people from all different backgrounds and viewpoints was something Nyack exposed me to through its values of diversity and loving others, even if you have different views.