Tony Collins reads, teaches at Penn Yan Elementary

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Tony Collins reads to Penn Yan Elementary Pre-K students.

Pre-Kindergarten students in Beth Watkins’ classroom at Penn Yan Elementary sat at Morning Meeting Tuesday morning, reading a message that first announced they were having a guest in their room that day, then gave a clue about their guest (a football), and presented a letter guessing game to reveal their guest’s identity.

They soon discovered they would be meeting a new friend who was a former high school, college and professional football star. What dazzled them the most was the idea that they would meet someone who in real life had played football on TV.

Following lunch, Mrs. Mattison’s Pre-Kindergarten students joined Miss Watkins’ class to gather for a story from none other than Tony Collins— former Penn Yan Elementary student, former football star, and currently a parent and citizen who is concerned for the health and welfare of young people.

Mr. Collins chatted with the children about what they wanted to be when they grow up. Answers ranged from a football player, to a fireman, to a teacher, to a ballerina, to a veterinarian, to a pirate, to a karate chopper.

Mr. Collins gave each child the opportunity to share, as he listened intently and shared chuckles along with the children as they expressed their enthusiastic hopes and dreams.

This lead Mr. Collins to share his heart message with students.  “You can do anything you want in your life. You can be whatever you want to be, and no one can stop you as long as you do one thing — obey your mom and dad,” he said.

When the children were asked what the word “obey” means, most replied, “I don’t know.”  

A few raised their hands to show they knew what it meant, and when asked to share her understanding, Addyson Webber replied, “To do what they tell you to do.”  

They discussed that when your parents tell you to make your bed, you need to obey and make your bed. If they tell you to clean up your toys, you need to obey and clean up your toys. The message was clear, “Obey your mom and dad.”

Mr. Collins read a wonderful story, “The Growing Story” by Ruth Krauss,  about a little boy who was noticing everything around him growing; his puppy, a chick, flowers, and his garden.

However, he wasn’t really sure that he was growing.  

The story and interactions between all of the children and the adults present, gave each smiles enough to fill hearts and minds with positive thoughts and energy for days on end, according to Miss Watkins. Exposure to positive role models is a core Developmental Asset of the Penn Yan Central School District.

She said Collins’ time with the students was made possible by his friend, Randy Richardson, adding, “Mrs. Mattison and Miss Watkins’ Pre-K classes are very grateful to ‘Mr. Randy’ Richardson for sharing his friend Tony Collins with each of them.”

Do you have a positive message to share with children at any level?  If so, please feel free to contact any of the school offices at 315-536-4300, to offer your willingness to share.

Tony Collins and Penn Yan Pre-K students