Katie Collins, Academic Skills Center
Milton’s Academic Skills Center is a warren of comfortable study rooms and offices in the basement of Cox Library. Katie Collins is director of this center that provides students with a quiet place to study and if they choose, and services that can help them reach their academic potential. Skills Center services are designed to complement the support students receive from their individual teachers and advisors.
Katie came to Milton in 2009 from Northeastern University where she worked for the founder of the university’s learning disability program. “I was also seeing that college students lacked the skills they needed, and it was already too late for many of them. The skills I want students to be able to use should be part of their learning in high school,” says Katie.
When Katie’s caseload rose to an unsustainable level, she “Googled” her job description in frustration and found the position Milton had just posted.
“Milton’s academic skills director at the time was fantastic,” says Katie. “I worked with her for a week before she moved with her family, and it was clear that she just loved Milton. My plan was to build on what she had created. Things she had hoped to implement for the center were my starting point. For example, I started with the peer-tutoring program, and we’ve enhanced it greatly.”
Katie earned her bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the University of Connecticut. After graduation, she worked at the Landmark School, a boarding school for students with learning disabilities in Beverly, Massachusetts. While there, she earned her master’s in moderate disabilities at Simmons Graduate School of Special Education.
“What I appreciate about Milton is that academic support is available to everyone, and students can self indentify for that help. We are working with an intelligent population, but they’re still kids. Academic support has nothing to do with intelligence during the teenage years—it just means focusing on what’s developmentally appropriate for each person. Being disorganized or not managing your time well does not mean you’re set up for academic failure for life. Having a messy binder when you are in ninth grade is developmentally appropriate.”
Katie’s days are busy and vary greatly—working closely with faculty, parents, testing organizations and, of course, students. Every Monday, she meets with Student Advocates, the student affinity group that she started this year.
“This is my favorite part of the week,” says Katie. “These students are awesome. The group is a combination of social, support and advocacy work. It brings together boys and girls who maybe didn’t know each other very well, but are now connecting and developing close friendships.”
Katie has also served as the Class IV dean for the past few years, and next year she will transition to be head of Goodwin House. Katie and her wife, Amanda, and their baby daughter, Quinn, will move into the boys’ dorm over the summer.