‘She loved her job’: Tribute to Dagenham teacher who dedicated 50 years to profession

Renee Collins. Picture: Sue Snushall

Renee Collins. Picture: Sue Snushall - Credit: Archant

Tributes have been paid to a “popular” teacher who dedicated 50 years to children following her death at the age of 80.

Renee Collins, who taught at Parsloes Manor and Sydney Russell School in Dagenham, passed away on Sunday, June 14.

Rosina Purnell, a friend and colleague of 20 years, said: “Mrs Collins was proud of her community and its achievements.

“She loved her job and enjoyed being involved with all kinds of teenagers in order for them to move forward and fulfil their potential.

“She will be sorely missed by her family and her many teaching colleagues.”

Mrs Collins, who lived in Rush Green, filled several roles in a career which began at the age of 21. She started as a special needs teacher then became a head of year before finally helping to set up and manage the behaviour unit at Sydney Russell. She retired aged 70.

Rosina said: “Humour and positivity were the mainstays of her teaching style. She knew how to motivate teenagers with an upbeat assembly, as well as being able to calm down and pacify those who had previously been involved in a fight.

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“She was also popular with her teaching colleagues because of her skills in dealing with every imaginable situation. Nothing ever phased her.

“The old Parsloes Manor site at Halbutt Street was prone to floods and varying crises due to its dilapidated condition but Mrs Collins took them all in her stride.

“Those children from difficult backgrounds, with sometimes huge problems, were always given unequivocal encouragement and support,” Rosina added.

On why Mrs Collins remained in the borough her entire career, Rosina said: “She was absolutely dedicated to improving the lives of the children where she lived. She was very focused on her community.

“She just loved the children. She wasn’t soppy, but she wanted them to make something of themselves.

“She dealt with some very difficult children and families, but she never gave up. Always positive, always joking and laughing, she sustained a lot of children through some difficult times in their lives.

Mrs Collins died from health complications. She leaves behind a daughter, Shane, and son, David.

Her funeral is restricted because of the coronavirus crisis to close family and friends. However, donations to St. Francis Hospice in memory of Reneeare welcomed.