BOB Collins’ connection with his students goes beyond his computer classroom at Singleton High.
Mr Collins is the year 9 advisor, a role he shares with fellow teacher Leanne Ellis.
Mr Collins said he discovered a new respect for the role after leading and guiding what he describe as an incredible group of students through a most difficult time three years ago.
One of the students had been battling cancer, went into remission but the cancer returned. The students were devastated but bandied together to support one another through a very difficult time.
“I knew we had to find a distraction from the grief and do something so we started raising money for childrens cancer research,” Mr Collins said.
That particular group of students raised $30,000 over three years and left school with an understanding that small actions can make huge differences.
It was with this same spirit that Mr Collins paired up with Leanne Ellis to take on a new year group.
That group of students are now in year 9 and the leadership group (a group of students who meet regularly to discuss ideas for the year such as fund raising or school excursions) has a new project.
The Change for Cancer project is a simple idea where the donors won’t even realise they are making a donation.
The change will come from the playground, money that is stepped over day-in, day-out by students.
Year 9 student, Brady McMillan, knows it will make some serious cash.
“Last year I walked around the playground and collected twenty dollars worth in five cent pieces in no time,” Brady said.
Ms Ellis suggestion that the money go to prostate cancer research was accepted by the students, even before they knew why she nominated the cause.
Now that they know, the enthusiasm to make sure some big money is raised cannot be contained.
Last year Mr Collins was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
He has undergone surgery and doctors are monitoring his health before any further decision is made on treatments.
Mr Collins is happy to talk about his situation but admits he clammed up for a couple of months when the diagnosis was first made.
It was only when he started talking about his own prostate cancer that he was shocked to learn so many colleagues and friends and friends of friends had prostate cancer.
“It is more common then breast cancer yet we don’t hear so much about it,” he said.
He urges all men to have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test which is a way to pick up the disease and of course, the earlier it is picked up the better the prognosis.
“No one ever wants to hear the word cancer, it is hard to describe how it affects you and others around you,” Mr Collins said.
“I don’t feel sick at all, I never have but emotionally it does play on your mind.”
His response is the same as he encouraged in his students when their lives were first touched by cancer.
“I think that doing something positive, getting involved in something like this helps how you are feeling,” he said.
While the recipient is yet to be voted upon, Mr Collins said he would like to see the money go to Prostate Cancer Research and given his understanding of the disease, he is unlikely to have much debate from students.