Teacher Feature: Kailey Collins


This fall, Chapman welcomed Kailey Collins to the English department.

Even though this is Collins’ first full year as a faculty member, this is not her first experience with the school. She is part of a legacy of Chapman graduates and wants to make a difference in the community that greatly affected her and her family.

“I chose Chapman because Inman’s home for me,” Collins said. “My family went here, my grandma went here, my mom went here; it’s just always kind of felt like home for me, so I wanted to return here and make the impact here that it made on my family.”

Not only is Collins familiar with the Panther nation in general, but she also has experience as a Chapman teacher. Before graduating from North Greenville University last fall, she completed her student teaching here under English teacher Susan Hall.

Collins thoroughly enjoyed student teaching and the valuable advice and guidance Hall had to offer.

“Student teaching was quite the adventure,” Collins said. “I was like a sponge, just soaking in everything (Hall) said. Working with her and being alongside her was probably the best part, just taking in everything she had to give me.”

In addition to student teaching experience, Collins actually served as a long-term substitute last spring, but with a twist. 

When former biology teacher Chelsea Elkins went on maternity leave in March, Collins, despite having trained to become an English teacher, found herself preparing Biology 1 and AP Biology students for their EOCs and exams.

“In the middle of my student teaching, Dr. McMillan reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, we have this long-term sub position opening and in order to keep you in the building, why don’t you just hang out with us and it’ll be like the experience of teaching?’” Collins said. “I was like, ‘This is terrifying, biology, but yeah, let’s do it.’”

Going from student teaching to long-term substitute teaching is quite the change. The hardest thing to get used to, according to Collins, is being the only authority figure in the classroom.

“I think that the biggest transition was it being just me,” Collins said. “Student teaching, you kind of have everything given to you, you have this person that’s mentoring you, who’s there to guide you, but as a long-term sub, you’re the only person in the room. You’re the adult in the room.”

Just being a long-term sub comes with its own challenges, but being a biology sub as an English teacher brings more unique difficulties. 

Since she came in March, Collins had to adjust to the mood of the class, and she had to extensively research the course material to make sure she was correctly teaching her students.

“I went in halfway through the semester, so I was having to take a culture already created and make it my own, but not change it too much,” Collins said. “I felt like I was in college again because I had to study so much, but it was worth it just to help everyone succeed.”

Despite not being trained as a biology teacher, Collins saw tremendous success in all three classes. Her AP Biology class had a high passing rate, and over 80% of her Biology 1 students passed their EOCs, with several making 100s.

Senior Abby Gossett, who was a member of the AP Biology class, recognized the unifying effect Collins had on the class and how hard she worked to help them.

“My favorite part of Mrs. Collins’s class was how she came in and was able to just get the kids together,” Gossett said. “She studied biology so she could help us, and I just like the environment she created and her trying to help us.”

Now Collins is in an English classroom, where she’s supposed to be, teaching her own material and making her own connections with students. Even though it’s relatively early in the semester, her students are already appreciating all she’s doing to help them succeed.

“When we ask her for help, she goes above and beyond in explaining it,” said sophomore Jewell Richardson. “If we ask her for a definition, she’ll give out a sentence, she’ll define it, she’ll put it in a word, she’ll make it easier for you to remember it.”

Richardson especially appreciates the fun environment Collins creates in her classroom.

“Mrs. Collins is very fun and open to people,” Richardson said. “She explains it a lot when she is teaching, and she is always moving around, helping you, and asking questions like do you need help with this, and she just makes it all fun.”

As for Collins herself, she is enjoying the freedom that comes with teaching her own classes and forging her own relationships with all of her students.

“I think just being able to teach my own stuff, being able to teach English, creating my own classroom culture from day 1,” Collins said. “(I loved) being able to set the tone for the rest of the semester and just really being able to get to know everybody and be a difference maker.”