Killins retired from Fulton County School System on Nov. 30.
The decision, one not made lightly, occurred through her resolve to tend to her mother, who will soon begin chemotherapy to combat a recent breast cancer diagnosis.
There are many things she will miss, she said, her school being at the top of the list.
Killins was the last remaining teacher at the school from the 1985-86 school year, the first year that students strolled down the hallways at Camp Creek Middle.
Her departure brings an end to her 27-year tutelage at Camp Creek and 37 years total of educating young minds.
Prior to teaching in Fulton County, Killins taught in Florida for two years.
She moved to Georgia in 1978 and taught in two elementary schools within Fulton County — James L. Riley and C.H. Gillette, both of which have since closed.
But although Killins liked teaching younger children, she was drawn to instructing those middle school aged and older.
“My sixth-grade teacher influenced me,” she said. “She was such a wonderful teacher. Sixth-grade was the niche. They’re still young and open to learning and talking to you.”
When Killins retired from Camp Creek, she was teaching sixth-grade earth science. Before then, she taught language arts for four years and also seventh grade life science.
Each moment has stretched her and taught her new things about herself, but for each teachable moment, there have been difficult ones.
“The hardest part is when you get kids that have been turned off to learning,” she said. “A lot of the kids come to school with baggage, and you have to give them the space to unwind and to see that your classroom is a safe learning environment for them. It is hard to get them to see the joy in learning.”
For educators that are new to profession, Killins offered simple advice to will them through what can be a difficult and trying career — patience.
“I prayed every day before I walked in the door for patience,” she said. “[You also have to] have compassion. Teaching has to be something that you want to do, not something you need to do. It has to be a want and desire to work with kids.”
Killins hopes to one day return to the classroom.