Biology Educator Brian Collins Named the 2024 Wisconsin National Teacher of the Year Representative

Biology Educator Brian Collins Named the 2024 Wisconsin National Teacher of the Year RepresentativeBrian Collins, a distinguished science teacher at Unity High School in Balsam Lake, has been named the 2024 Wisconsin National Teacher of the Year representative by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction. This prestigious recognition highlights Collins’ remarkable contributions to education and his unwavering dedication to his students, school and community.

With over 22 years of teaching experience at Unity High School, Collins has taught a broad range of subjects, including general biology, AP biology, environmental biology, human anatomy/physiology, ecology, zoology and ornithology. His diverse expertise and passion for science education have left a lasting impact on countless students, inspiring many to pursue careers in the sciences.

Collins’ teaching philosophy is rooted in trust, teamwork and building strong relationships within the classroom and the broader school community. “Good teaching and learning ultimately come from trust, teamwork, and a sense of safety,” Collins said. “I love seeing education at work in the quality of a person’s life and in the strength of the community. I am eager and excited to serve as our state’s representative, both as a teacher and as a lifelong learner.”

State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly praised Collins, stating, “Brian is an exemplary educator, and I am so excited that he will be Wisconsin’s representative to the National Teacher of the Year program. His energy, passion, and commitment to his students and community are inspiring. He would be the first to say that he is just one part of the interconnected ecosystem that is his school; I would respond that he plays a key role in fostering such an inclusive and rich community.”

Beyond his classroom responsibilities, Collins has significantly contributed to his school community through various roles. He co-founded Unity’s Ojibwe Language Revitalization Club, coached football and powerlifting, and chaired the Professional Staff Development Committee. During the summer, Collins works as a contract biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, where he combines his love for birds and photography, sharing his experiences with his students.

Collins’ selection as the 2024 Wisconsin National Teacher of the Year representative was made by a committee of educators, representatives from partner organizations, and past Wisconsin Teachers of the Year. He will join other state representatives in professional learning opportunities provided by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), with a National Teacher of the Year being chosen from this group to serve as a national and international advocate for the teaching profession.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction also announced the other 2024 Wisconsin Teachers of the Year, who were honored for their dedication and impact on their students:

• Saghar Homayounpour, computer science teacher at New Berlin West High School (School District of New Berlin)
• Claudia Heller de Messer, English as a second language teacher at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts (Milwaukee Public Schools)
• Rachel Kumferman, school social worker at McKinley Elementary School (Wauwatosa School District)
• Katelyn Winkel-Simmerman, mathematics teacher at Cedar Grove-Belgium Middle School (Cedar Grove-Belgium School District)

State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly celebrated these teachers, noting, “They exemplify what makes the teaching profession so rewarding and so impactful by engaging students in creative ways, creating inclusive classroom and school communities, and serving as leaders in their schools and beyond.”

Brian Collins’ recognition as the 2024 Wisconsin National Teacher of the Year representative underscores the significant impact he has had on his students and the educational community, making him a fitting representative for Wisconsin on the national stage.

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