When Sophia Cosentino and Grace Validzic learned their art teacher was retiring this year, they wanted to do something special for her.
Deb Collins has been a teacher in the district for 32 years, 18 of them at the high school. She announced plans to retire this winter, and Sophia and Grace immediately set to work painting a special tribute that would express the influence their teacher had on them and others.
“She’s been my closest teacher,” said Sophia. “We wanted to do something to give back what she gave us.”
The pair spent several months painting a mural with portraits of Ms. Collins and her daughters, Lauren and Rachel. In addition to Ms. Collins’s daughters—who the students knew were near and dear to their teacher’s heart—Sophia and Grace also painted a few inside jokes and symbols (squirrels, butterflies, vines) with special meaning.
“I was stunned,” Ms. Collins said the morning the students unveiled their mural. “I did not know what to say. It’s so thoughtful, so out of their way, and it means much more than what they’ll probably ever realize.”
Ms. Collins says her retirement is bittersweet. The students, she says, are the best part of her job. “That’s going to be the hardest part walking out the door.”
The mural will hang in the stairwell by the art room.
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