Lila K. Mullins Fund
In 1988, Lila Mullins was named Rhode Island’s first Christa McAuliffe Fellow. The Fellowship, commemorating the teacher-astronaut who died in the 1986 shuttle disaster, enabled teachers to, among other things, develop innovative programs. Lila used her fellowship award to develop and implement a literature based language arts curriculum for her sixth grade students.
In an article in The Providence Journal-Bulletin the headline read, “’Special’ teacher gets results: She’s unconventional, her students love it and they learn.” “That probably sums it up best. She loved teaching and her students. She got kids excited about learning,” says Frank Mullins of his late wife who taught in Providence’s elementary schools for 25 years.
Lila was forced to take early retirement due to scleroderma, an autoimmune disease she had been diagnosed with while an undergraduate. “She would have taught much longer, but the scleroderma began taking its toll. It had a major impact on her life and health and contributed to her early death,” Frank shares, noting Lila was only 57 when she died in 2008.
A lifelong Rhode Island resident, Lila studied extensively at Rhode Island College, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in instructional technology, and endorsement in English as a Second Language. It was in a graduate class at RIC that Lila and Frank met.
“Lila knew that, at some point, travel would become difficult, so we traveled extensively while she still was able,” Frank explains. During their 31-year marriage, the couple traveled throughout the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and many countries in Europe.
Frank recalls asking his wife where she wanted to go for dinner for her 50th birthday. Her choice was Mama’s Fish House, a restaurant on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Their 12-day birthday celebration was one of the couple’s three trips to Hawaii.
Just as Lila was dedicated to helping children learn, Frank is hopeful this permanent fund will promote learning, this time by researchers. The fund is designated for Brown University School of Medicine for its research and work relating to autoimmune skin diseases and disorders.