Winlock educator celebrated as she retires after 39 years of teaching


The end-of-the-year assembly at Winlock Middle School included a special surprise for a longtime teacher on Friday, June 28.

The gathering of students and staff honored retiring educator Lisa Collins, who taught at the school for 31 years during a career that spanned 39 years.

While the students received awards, Collins had no idea a slideshow would be presented in her honor.

The slideshow was played at the end of the awards assembly and started with Collins’ baby picture.

Her hands flew to her face in shock as images of her taken throughout her time as a teacher were presented on the screen.

Following the slideshow, she received flowers, cookies and a special award for her time at the school.

Collins said that she couldn’t possibly name just one favorite memory after her 39 years of teaching. She said she has so many memories, but she especially loves thinking back on the moments when her students showed “true grit.”

She became teary eyed hugging her former students.

“I don’t usually cry, but the kids mean everything to me,” she said.

When asked what impact she believes she’s had on her students, she said, “I hope they knew they were loved and I believed in them.”

She said that earlier in the day, June 28, she received an email from a student who was in her very first class she ever taught.

She insisted she didn’t start teaching with the intention of making an impact but instead to make sure every student felt loved.

Collins was a standout athlete as a student at Winlock before later returning to coach and teach, according to The Chronicle’s archives.

“Lisa Hoffman Collins (1980) was a member of the girls’ track state championship team in 1980 and a personal champion in shot put and discus,” the district stated when she was inducted in the school’s hall of fame in 2016. “She went on to compete at Spokane Community College and Idaho State University.”

In a tribute posted to Facebook, former student Brandon Patching recalled that Collins started her time in the district teaching at Winlock Miller Elementary School when he was in the sixth grade, noting that he was in her reading class.

“In the succeeding years, all five of my boys had the honor of being her students, and a couple were coached by her in track and field,” Patching wrote. “As I call it, since I was her student and they were my kids, they were her ‘grandstudents.’ And today ... it's over. A teaching career that spanned two generations of my family that included me, my younger brother and sister, five of my children, about eight of my nieces and nephews, a couple of great-nieces and nephews, has come to an end.”

Sarah Day, another staff member of the Winlock School District, was also celebrated for her 15 years of employment.

“I did almost everything except teach,” she said.

She spent her time with the district working in the kitchen, for the English and math departments, as a librarian and in special education during the pandemic.

Both women were given special awards and recognition for their time at the school.