Waters Today: Maternity leave in the middle of a pandemic! What’s that been like?
Ms. Collins-Gonzalez: It’s been wonderful so far. We are blessed to have a happy, healthy baby girl. The good thing about having a baby during the pandemic is that everyone is staying home these days, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything staying home with your little one.
What’s the biggest thing that’s changed now that you’re a mom?
The super mom senses! Moms can hear and see everything. I never believed it before, but it’s true.
As fellow moms, we totally agree! When Covid is over, what's the first thing you'll do that you can't do now? Take my baby girl to meet all of our friends and family. There are so many aunts, uncles and cousins that she hasn’t been able to meet yet.
Aww. Where did you grow up and go to elementary school?
In Waukesha, Wisconsin—I loved my elementary school! Some of the things that stick out as highlights of my grade school years were my awesome teachers, playing the flute in our school band, and going camping with my 5th grade class.
What's the best thing about teaching middle school?
The thing that I like about teaching the intermediate grades is that you really get to know your students’ personalities and sense of humor. It’s kind of a pivotal point where students are discovering who they are and who they want to be.
If you couldn't be a teacher, what would you be?
I think that I would like to be a travel journalist. It would be so fun to see the world and write about my adventures.
What’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?
The Amazon Rainforest! I lived in Ecuador for a year and taught English with a volunteer organization called World Teach. When my parents came to visit me we went on a week long vacation to the Amazon. It was a dream come true. We stayed in a little hut and spent our days exploring the jungle, with a guide of course. Our incredible guide lead us to 8 different types of monkeys, pink river dolphins, sloths, poison dart frogs and so much more.
That’s awesome—speaking of animals, what’s your spirit animal?
Probably an elephant. A few years ago I visited and elephant sanctuary in Thailand and fell in love with these gentle giants.
You’ve traveled a ton! What else would your students be surprised to learn about you? That my first job was working as a farm hand. I would ride my bike to the farm early in the morning to pick melons and vegetables from the fields. It was super hard work! The corn fields were wet and muddy in the morning and the stalks cut you up as you walked through. Plus for all my mud stains, cuts and sore muscles I only made $4.24 per hour. It was a tough job, but it really made me appreciate all the work that goes into the delicious food we eat.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
I would have to say, “Be a leader not a follower.” My dad always told me this growing up and as an adult I still believe it’s true.
Great advice! Thank you so much Ms. Collins—see you in the fall!