What’s Right: Pershing Middle School mentor teaches forgiveness

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by Sherry Williams / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 8, 2011 at 10:34 AM

HOUSTON—There’s a pretty unique teacher over at Pershing Middle School who will be missed a lot over the summer. He’s another example of "What’s Right" about our community.

Raul Collins’ class is made up of kids who get in trouble—a lot. But instead of getting kicked out, they were sent to Collins’ class this year. But he isn’t really a teacher, Collins is a cop.

"It’s better not to be the bad guy. I tell them that over and over again," Collins said.

He volunteered to spend one morning a week with kids as part of a new HPD mentor program. In just a few months, students’ behavior and grades improved dramatically.

An eighth grader named Braiam said he is now making "almost straight A’s." He used to get D’s and C’s. Another student said since coming to Collins’ class, he has gotten into only one fight. Typically he was having five or six fights.

"They’re starting to think college. They’re starting to think careers," Collins said.

Collins recently took his kids to the police academy to see the type of training he went through. They already knew about the childhood he went through. One filled with his father horribly abusing his mother.

"When I was three going on four, I remember him hitting her so hard he split her forehead. When I was four turning five he hit her in the mouth so hard he broke her jaw. And when I was 11, right before I turned 12 he shot her," Collins recalled.

Shot five times, his mother survived. She got out and she forgave her husband. It was a powerful lesson for Collins.

"I don’t have any bad stuff in my past that I can’t move on from," he told his Pershing students.

The fact that he shares his story with them without holding back, listens to them and cares about them are the reasons Officer Collins is able to make such a difference in their lives, his students said.

The HPD mentor program is currently in Pershing and Woodson middle schools in the Houston Independent School District.

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