July 7, 2023 at 1:22 p.m.

K.O. Days Grand Marshal is adored school teacher, coach



This year’s Karl Oskar Parade Grand Marshal learned pretty quickly when he started teaching 35 years ago at Chisago Lakes Middle School,  that the best way to connect with students was to think like a kid.  Be open to possibilities, ask questions and make the day-to-day stuff fun and the learning will take care of itself.

Newly-retired from District 2144, Pat Collins will be in the lead vehicle for Saturday night’s Karl Oskar Days  parade,  and if even half the students he’s connected with in his classroom attend the parade— the route should be packed.

Collins says it is a great honor and privilege to have been a teacher and coach here in Chisago Lakes.  

Not only does he feel honored to have had the opportunity to hook kids on the wonders of natural sciences, but he also left a mark on the district as a whole.  

He jump-started the solar power program that now basically  is supplying district energy needs entirely.

Collins credits a student who asked ‘why doesn’t the school have solar panels’ with triggering that movement towards renewables.  Collins said he went to the business services director about grants for solar panels, who said he should bring it to the school board and the kids stood alongside him in the Board pitch.  

Collins also instigated the environmental classroom on the west side of the middle school.  For years he could be observed poking about in the fields and ditches by the middle school, studying plant specimens where they grow.  The focus of his biology lesson plans could be summed with find out “what’s in your backyard?” The inter-connectedness of local plants, pollinators, insect life, geology, water quality— you name it a Pat Collins science class covered it.

He assures this reporter the outdoor classroom plant stock will be in good hands under his successor, who he says is “a plant nerd” like himself.  

One of his fondest moments of many,  related to school,  is when a bunch of senior grads came back to sit and talk and laugh in the middle school outdoor classroom after their commencement.

In retirement the one thing on the near term bucket list is a trip to Ireland, and the rest is a blank canvas.  

Be sure to wish Collins well and send some love to all the parade participants who represent what’s good in the land of Karl Oskar and Kristina.  Parade cuts through urban Lindstrom starting at 6 p.m. Saturday July 8.


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