PCCTC teacher earns state honor

Jordan Constance/Photos

Pickens County Career and Technology Center teacher Janie Collins is “like our mama,” according to some of her students.

By Jordan Constance
For The Courier

LIBERTY — Pickens County Career and Technology Center teacher Janie Collins was named South Carolina Health Science Educator of the Year on Dec. 3 at the Association for Career and Technology Educators’ annual Health Science Educators Conference in Myrtle Beach

Janie Collins

Janie Collins

Since Collins is on the board that helps choose the award winner, the other board members had to keep her selection a secret.

“It was a complete shock and surprise,” said Collins, who was taking photos of other award winners when she found out she was among the honorees.

In addition to her duties as a board member, Collins and a fellow teacher had a presentation called “Activities in a Pinch” at the conference, detailing fast and easy classroom teaching tips. The purpose of the conference is to bring together health science teachers from across the state to share ideas and teaching techniques.

Although she has now been recognized as the best in her field in the state, Collins was not always a teacher.

After working as a registered nurse for 25 years, Collins’ life changed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly a decade ago. She said she prayed to God, asking “What do you want me to do?” It was then she felt led to become a health science teacher. She is now an eight-year survivor of breast cancer.

Collins loves her students, who she said “have become family.” Her students agree, with some even saying she is “like our mama.”

In addition to teaching the curriculum, Collins tries to teach her students about life skills and gives them real-world examples from her time as a nurse. She places priority on her students, saying she wants to give them hope and show them there is “a better way.”

Collins helps students further by being one of four advisors to the HOSA-Future Health Professionals organization. She helps with fundraisers so students can afford to join HOSA and make trips to state and national competitions where they can earn recognition and volunteer hours.

In addition to her responsibilities in the classroom and with HOSA, Collins hopes to one day go back to school to take business classes, as she has always wanted to own her own business. She also hopes to maintain connections with her students.