The loss of Robert Collins, the acclaimed Principal of Hawthorn School District 73, on September 28 caused a grave blow to Vernon Hills, Illinois, and the surrounding area’s educational community. He leaves behind a legacy that will continue to inspire and direct upcoming generations of educators, signalling the end of an era in education.
Robert’s wife Kathy Hitz Collins broke the devastating news to friends and coworkers, reflecting the immense loss being experienced by the Collins family. In her poignant message, she wrote, “Friends, It breaks my heart to share with you that Robert passed away peacefully last night. He was surrounded by family. Thank you for respecting our family’s privacy as the girls and I and our family process and grieve. I will share more information when services are planned.”
Robert Collins’ journey in the field of education was marked by dedication, passion, and a commitment to excellence. His LinkedIn profile sheds light on the remarkable path he carved for himself and the lasting impact he had on students, colleagues, and the broader educational community.
Collins began his career as a high school teacher and department chair of fine arts and social science. It was evident from the outset that his passion for education would lead to greater responsibilities and opportunities to influence the lives of young learners.
In 2008, Collins took the helm of leadership at Hawthorn School District 73, and from there, his career soared to new heights. He started as an assistant principal at Hawthorn Elementary South, where his leadership skills began to shine. His unwavering dedication to fostering an environment of learning excellence soon earned him the position of principal at Hawthorn Elementary North.
However, it was his role as the proud principal at Hawthorn Middle School North that defined his legacy. Under his guidance, the school thrived, becoming a beacon of educational innovation and excellence. Collins’ leadership style was characterized by his commitment to personalized learning and a guaranteed and viable curriculum for all students. He believed in the potential of each student and worked tirelessly to ensure that they received the best education possible.
Collins’ impact extended far beyond the walls of Hawthorn Middle School North. He was a sought-after speaker and presenter on the national stage, advocating for educational practices that truly put students at the center. His insights and expertise were shared at symposiums held at prestigious institutions like Harvard University and Syracuse University. He also graced the stages of national conferences in Orlando, Philadelphia, Austin, and Memphis, leaving audiences inspired and motivated to transform education.
Recognition for his outstanding contributions to education poured in during his career. Collins was honored with the Lake County Illinois Principal Association Principal of the Year award, a testament to his exceptional leadership within the educational community. Furthermore, his dedication to advancing educational policies that benefit students led him to become a valued member of the IPA legislation committee.
Behind the accolades and accomplishments, Robert Collins remained grounded in his commitment to students and the pursuit of knowledge. His academic journey was marked by his continuous pursuit of excellence. He earned a Master’s Degree in School Leadership (Type 75) at Concordia University-River Forest, demonstrating his dedication to staying at the forefront of educational leadership practices. Prior to that, he earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education at Millikin University, highlighting his passion for both the arts and education.
The influence of Robert Collins on education cannot be emphasised. He was more than just a principal; he was a forward-thinking teacher who cherished the transforming potential of education. The innumerable students whose lives he affected, the colleagues he motivated, and the educational community that benefited from his leadership and insight continue to carry on his legacy.
Let’s honour Robert Collins’ life and the immeasurable contribution he made to education while we grieve his passing. For many generations to come, his dedication to individualised learning, support for a reliable curriculum, and unrelenting devotion to pupils will serve as an inspiration to educators. In the classroom and beyond, Robert Collins’ legacy will forever be a beacon of light, guiding us toward a brighter future for education.