Teacher of Year Simpson reflects on why she chose to be an educator

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, December 23, 2023

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is doing a Q&A with all of the teachers of the year in the Troup County School System. Today we are writing about Quinshada Simpson, an English Language Arts teacher at Ethel Kight Elementary School. We asked 20 questions, and we’ve shortened this interview to some of our favorite responses.

Simpson has worked in education for eight years, with seven of those being at the Troup County School System. She worked at Berta Weathersbee for one year in 2016, moved to a magnet school in Columbus for a year before moving back to TCSS. She’s been at Ethel Kight for five years.

Simpson has three children, all who attend schools within TCSS. Her oldest daughter, Dekoriah Simpson, 14, is in the 9th grade at LaGrange High School. She also attends classes at THINC Academy. Her son, Christopher Walker Jr., 6, is in kindergarten at Ethel Kight. Chris’Tiana Walker, 4, is her youngest child and is in pre-k at Ethel Kight as well.

Simpson serves as the cheerleading coach at Ethel Kight for winter clubs.

Q: What or who inspired you to become an educator?

A: I remember being in the third grade. and I missed my bus to go home. My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Landreth called my family and no one was available to pick me up from school. My teacher decided to take me home so I wouldn’t have to stay for ACE. It was at this moment that I realized it was more than just teaching content to students and making sure they passed a test. This gesture, which may seem small to others, showed me that my teacher cared about me and my well-being. Every teacher I had at Unity Elementary School plays an important role in my why. Mrs. Hagler, Mrs. Landreth, Mrs. McCook, Mrs. Moncus, and so many more showed me that teaching is beyond books and tests. Because of them, I decided to become a teacher to show my students that teachers actually do care about their students more than they know.

Q: What are your career aspirations?

A: Currently, I’m in the doctoral program at Columbus State University for Curriculum and Instruction with a Tier 1 add-on. With this degree, I aspire to lead an elementary school as an assistant principal and eventually a principal.

Q: If you weren’t a teacher, what career field would you be in?

A: If I wasn’t a teacher, I would honestly be a therapist. I’m a very empathetic person. I enjoy being a listening ear to others and helping them sort out situations rationally.

Q: What hidden talent do you have that might surprise your students and our readers?

A: A secret talent I have is that I can sing! Not in front of anyone of course. Only when I’m alone.

Q: What’s the most creative/unique project one of your classes has worked on?

A: While learning about historical figures one year, students were assigned a person to complete research on without telling anyone their person. As a review at the end of the unit, the students had to present as if they were that historical figure and other students had to guess who they were. Students had to dress up as the historical figure they were assigned and were allowed to bring in any props to use during their presentation.

Q: If you could invite any historical figure to speak to your class, who would you choose and why?

A: As cliche as this sound, I would ask Ruby Bridges to come speak to my class. I always tell my students and my children that something someone CANNOT take from you is your education. I want them to hear from her firsthand how determined she was to receive her education regardless of the obstacles she faced daily. I also would like for her to express that gratitude she had for her teacher, Barbara Henry, who was also a prime example of being a teacher is more than just books and tests.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part about your job?

A: The most rewarding part of my job is walking down the hall and feeling like a celebrity. Students from previous years always want a hug, a fist bump, or to just tell me hi. They often tell me about activities or information they remember from my class. This gives me the reassurance I sometimes need as an educator.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

A: The most challenging part of my job would have to be technology. I’m more of a paper/pencil, workbook type of teacher. Even though I can use these items some of the time, it’s best to complete assignments on Chromebooks as well because that’s the type of time we’re in now.

Q: What’s the most unusual excuse a student has given you for not completing their homework?

A: So, you know the old saying “my dog ate my homework.” My first year teaching, one of my students told me that their younger sibling ate their homework. I was appalled that the student would give me that excuse. It was until I had my second child that I realized that it was a strong possibility that the student’s sibling really did eat their homework.

Q: What did it mean to you to be named your school’s teacher of the year?

A: It was such an honor to be able to represent all of the hardworking and amazing teachers at Ethel Kight. I’m delighted to know that my colleagues feel that I’m a person who could represent our school. Perfect example of someone is watching you even when you’re not aware.