Recognition for Kids that Deserve It!
“It was the first day of eighth grade. I was scared. I walked down the dark halls of Calvin Coolidge Junior High School past clanging lockers and kids with crew cuts and bobby socks. And then I turned into the room at the end of that long dark scary hall. The room was full of light. And he was standing there, welcoming us in…” recalled Dr. Ann Boaden, a former student of Richard “Dick” J. Collins.
This memory of Dick, which was recounted at his funeral, is a memory shared by thousands of his students.
Dick served as an English teacher and a coach for the football and track teams in the Moline School District for more than 30 years. His wife Susan was also an educator and taught social studies at Moline High School for 8 years.
When Dick became ill with pancreatic cancer, Sue knew that the most fitting tribute to her husband would be to establish a scholarship in his name for Moline High School students. Dick passed away in January of 1992 and the first Richard J. Collins Memorial Scholarship was awarded that year. The scholarship was designed to honor well-rounded students, not just the ones at the top of the class. “The kids in the ‘middle’ sometimes don’t get recognized, and I feel they can benefit from some recognition,” explained Sue.
Sue hopes that Dick is remembered as a kind, compassionate and empathic person. One scholarship recipient confirmed that these were undoubtedly qualities that he saw in Dick, “Mr. Collins was more than a teacher. He was a legend, known not only for this ability to teach but to work with and understand students…From his first words [in class], I sensed a warmth and personal concern for us.”
A Coach for Life
Another recipient of the scholarship award wrote in his essay that, “Coach Collins was more than a football coach. He was a coach for life.”
In addition to teaching English courses for honor students, Dick also taught remedial English. Sue commented that one of Dick’s former students told her that “we [students in the remedial course] were misfits, but he made us feel like geniuses.”
Dick continues to help students achieve academic success and make them feel “like geniuses” through the Richard J. Collins Memorial Scholarship. Sue plans to continue to carry out her and her husband’s legacy of compassion through a planned gift that will benefit three funds at the Community Foundation: Dick’s scholarship fund, the Midwest Writing Center Endowment and the Midwest Writing Center Endowment for Youth Writing Programs.
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