He 'really cared about the kids'

COSTA MESA — Members of the Newport-Mesa Unified school board feted outgoing Michael Collier Tuesday evening, bringing to an end his four-year term as a trustee.

Humorous anecdotes were thrown in about Collier, who represented Trustee Area 2 before losing to Councilwoman Katrina Foley by nearly 3,000 votes on Nov. 2.

District Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard recounted one of his initial encounters with Collier, in which Collier told him, "You know what? I like you."

To which Hubbard responded, "Oh yeah? Why's that?"

Collier answered, "Because I see a lot of you in me. You're a lot like me."

Board member Dana Black teared up, saying "You're a real champion, a hero. You really cared about the kids."

Board President Karen Yelsey remembered how she and Collier were elected to the board in 2006. She said that the bond forged between them has always been special.

"We came in at the same time, and we knew each other before we knew everybody else," Yelsey said. "We will sorely miss you."

Collier's success as a board member was painted throughout the meeting by board members: Namely, that he is a guy who really cares about the children. Collier, a father of four, has two children who graduated from Westside schools and two younger ones attending them.

Collier's political platform all along was to boost student achievement and erase the negative image that some of the Westside schools tend to get, which, more often than not, is erroneously based on the socio-economic levels that exist in the region, he said.

Board member Walt Davenport said he hoped that Collier would someday obtain that "magnet school of the arts" in the district.

It's a dream that Collier has always had; he was a band director for a number of years at Estancia and Monte Vista high schools, the latter in El Monte.

Collier said he was going to continue to speak out about issues.

"Maybe now you'll all listen to me," he joked.

Foley will resign from the City Council to take Collier's place on the board in early December.

A Costa Mesa resident, Collier said he plans to devote more time to volunteer work, including serving on the local PTAs at Davis Middle School or Estancia High, which his two younger children attend.

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