Laveen Resident Named ASPA Educator of the Year
He will, but he will also learn to tuck in his shirt, turn his hat around and show some respect. He if refuses, he can walk out the door, said T.C. Collins who was recently honored as the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditation (ASPA) 2015 Educator of the Year for the state of Arizona.
Most of his students are very serious and eager to learn, but there are that few who resist.
“Every workplace has a dress code. Every bike shop is going to have some kind of dress code,” he said, “Even at McDonalds you have to wear a hairnet.”
It’s all in the curriculum.
“We teach them how to be good employees. We teach them a lot if soft skills like how to treat customers and not use the f-word every other word. In the workplace you can’t behave like that,” he said.
His students are aged between 18 to 60 years old.
“They want to learn to work on motorcycles as a hobby or career change,” he said. “They are there to change their lives. You get them from day one until they graduate a year and a half later.”
“Then they are going out into the world to do their thing, said Collins like a proud papa.
He said he believes he is a natural teacher.
“I was always teaching the younger pups how to do it,” he said. “Actually I was selfish. I wanted them to do it right the first time, so I didn’t have to redo their work.”
He spent 22 years in the U.S. Air Force and the past 10 teaching at MMI.
He said he was a student at MMI while still in the military where he was a technical instructor for aircraft maintenance and a military Motorcycle Safety instructor.
After leaving the military, MMI welcomed him back as an instructor.
“T.C. always goes above and beyond in everything he does, constantly trying to find another way to contribute and make our campus and community a better place,” said Bryan Fishkind, campus president at the institute. “He believes in our students and staff and supports them both on and off campus. His enthusiasm, kindness and zest for life is both contagious and inspiring. We are proud to have T.C. as part of the MMI team.”
In addition to his regular duties, Collins works with the student council in community service projects in food or toy drives and cleaning up in the community around the school.
Collins views this as part of his, “everyone should pitch in” attitude that he credits as part of his military training.
He was nominated for the honor by officials at his school.
“I was pretty surprised,” he said. “My bosses think enough of me to think I deserved it. There were about 1,000 other deserving teachers out there.”
“We are very pleased that T.C. was chosen for this great recognition from APSA,” said Jim Wagnon, education manager at MMI. “He is dedicated member of our campus and organization who continuously supports our student and community with his knowledge and contributions to MMI.”
And he loves his job.
“I have the best job in the world,” he said. “I am one of those people gets up every day and gets to go to work. I don’t have to go to work.”
He joined the military in 1981 and was transferred to Arizona in 1998.
“We consider ourselves locals,” he said.
Collins and his wife lived in Glendale at first and then moved to Laveen, which they love. “We are on the side of Carver Mountain. It’s quiet out there,” he said.
Married for 31 years, he told his wife in the beginning not to make him choose between her and a motorcycle. “Luckily, I got her to ride a motorcycle of her own,” he said.