During the course of her career, Collins-Cross has taught students on the Papago Indian Reservation in Topawa, Ariz., instructed children at a hospital for the mentally insane, and even held class in a field teaching children of migrant workers for the Camarillo School District.
She found her home with Glendale Unified in 1980. She taught special education at Glendale High for eight years before coming to Rosemont where she remained in the special education department until 1999.
For the last 10 years Collins-Cross has taught eighth grade history, a subject she clearly loves. She had teamed with fellow retiring eighth grade history teacher Lynn McGinnis in organizing the American Freedom Tour, an annual eighth grade history field trip to such places as New York, Boston, Washington D.C. and in 2008-09 to Illinois with a focus on Abraham Lincoln. With McGinnis, she has been instrumental in organizing an annual Civil War Day, a day long event for eighth graders featuring everything from period dance demonstrations to mini seminars on the military and daily living — a section Collins-Cross taught herself, with props and authentic costuming.
In addition to core subjects, she has taught adaptive P.E., drill team, modified P.E., clothing, skills for adolescence, and cooking. She has held various other positions through the years, including resource specialist and department head.
After 40 years, Collins-Cross still loves the job. “Teaching is a wonderful profession,” said the veteran, “and I would recommend it to anyone who loves working with children.” She added, “I went into teaching because it was a service job and I got paid in the heart.”
Collins-Cross said her “biggest joy” was helping the special education population become mainstreamed, a goal she achieved by working to change laws relating to special education. “We took disabilities out of the closet,” she said. “The public has accepted disabilities.”