New science instructor Billie Dollins uses unique methods to immerse students in learning

New biology teacher Billie Dollins stands in her newly decorated classroom. She previously worked at Coral Springs Middle School for 18 years and is excited to join the staff at MSD. After teaching for 21 years, I was ready to do something new and this was just the adventure I was looking for, Dollins said.
New biology teacher Billie Dollins stands in her newly decorated classroom. She previously worked at Coral Springs Middle School for 18 years and is excited to join the staff at MSD. “After teaching for 21 years, I was ready to do something new and this was just the adventure I was looking for,” Dollins said.
Ahana Tippanagoudar

With a passion for teaching, an educator leads her students through guided notes. Once they are finished, she announces their next assignment and passes out materials. The students work hard as their teacher gets them ready for their upcoming state tests.

Billie Dollins is making the most out of her first year as a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher during the 2023-2024 term, where she teaches biology and Integrated Science Honors.

Dollins was born and raised in Niles, Michigan. She graduated from Central Michigan University and stayed in state to begin her teaching career at Dowagiac Middle School, the same school she and her parents attended as kids.

“It was fun because my coworkers were my old teachers,” Dollins said. “It was also strange to call my teachers by their first names.”

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Dollins worked in Michigan for three years before moving to South Florida. She started teaching Biology and Coding at Coral Springs Middle School and worked there for 18 years. 

“Mrs. Dollins is an incredible teacher and I was lucky enough to have her twice,” freshman Lucy Woo said. “Science was never a favorite subject of mine but I always looked forward to her Biology class because she actually made it interesting. I also really appreciate how much she cared about her students and she always made an effort to talk to us and ask us about our weekends.” 

In addition to teaching two subjects, Dollins was the advisor of the “Girls Who Code” program at CSMS. 

“It was a safe space where we could just code and talk and be ourselves and the sisterhood activities always had everyone cracking up,” Woo said. “[It was] probably my favorite club actually.”

In the spring and summer of 2023, Dollins got ready to make the big move from CSMS to MSD. She moved schools because of her relationship with her middle school students. She loves connecting with them and helping them succeed. She was eager to start at her new workplace. 

“I love forming a relationship and bond with my students,” Dollins said. “The content I teach is important but it is the relationships that matter. I always want my students to walk away from my class feeling like they matter in the world.” 

Dollins also moved because of MSD’s community. She appreciates the way the current staff makes students and instructors feel successful. 

“Ms. Kefford is a really amazing principal and boss and I wanted to work with her and the students here,” Dollins said. “Even though it’s a big school, it feels like a small community. There’s a lot of clubs and after-school activities and sports so everybody kind of finds their niche and their place.” 

While she is new, she has seen the familiar faces of her former students at CSMS, a feeder school for MSD. 

“Mrs. Dollins is a very understanding teacher; if you need to make something up she’ll help you and if you fail she’ll help you,” freshman Aurora Davis said. “Mrs. Dollins is one of the best teachers you’ll ever get in a lifetime.” 

In order to get her students interested and engaged in learning, Dollins uses unique ways of teaching. 

“I would say I like to use humor in the classroom,” Dollins said. “I don’t take myself seriously at all. I will sing and dance and make fun of myself. It helps kids relax when they see me as a real person being silly.” 

She also uses one-pagers, an assignment given at the end of each unit a few days before the unit test. Key information is displayed on the one-pager through charts, graphs, drawings and words. Students can be as artistic and creative as they want with them. 

“Mrs. Dollins’ one pagers were really efficient because I had trouble understanding the concepts throughout the year but I really enjoyed making the one pagers,” freshman Raisya Mohd said. “When I studied for the Biology EOC at the end of the year, I was able to use my one pagers I made throughout the year and I got a five when I thought I was going to fail.” 

Dollins also likes to show her appreciation for her students. One thing she does is celebrate their birthdays to make them feel important. 

“Mrs. Dollins would remember all her students’ birthdays and would dance and even sing them a birthday song,” Mohd said. “She makes them feel really special and she really loves her students.” 

So far, Dollins has been enjoying her time at MSD. She has made many friends and likes her students and coworkers.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been easy but it’s been a really smooth transition,” Dollins said. “This year I’m just excited to become a part of the school. I still feel brand new but I’m just feeling more comfortable every day.”

Outside of school, Dollins has many hobbies and activities that she is passionate about. She loves spending time with her family and playing with her puppies. She also enjoys reading and baking cupcakes. Dollins is also a Disney adult and loves anything Disney-related. 

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About the Contributor
Ahana Tippanagoudar
Ahana Tippanagoudar is a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. She is a first-year reporter. Outside of school, she enjoys playing the piano, dancing, volunteering and playing with her golden retriever.
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