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Benjamin "Ben" Simons

Ben I am a teacher because I am addicted to the light that I see in the eyes of children when they feel pleasure and pride in learning something new.

I grew up in Alaska and had had a very difficult time in school, especially my elementary school years. I had the dubious honor of being one of the most frequent visitors at the Principal’s office. I was there so frequently that 15 years later, when I student taught at Glacier Valley Elementary the ladies in the office still ribbed me for my notoriety.

When I finished high school I was absolutely certain that I was finished with school. Instead I pursued a long-term goal of becoming a professional ski instructor. It was in a lesson with a little girl whose name I have long forgotten that I made up my mind to become a teacher. She came to me kicking and screaming, she hated skiing (much like I hated school) but when we finished that day she told her mom she loved it. I thought that afternoon that it would be amazing if I could have had a similar experience in school. Furthermore, I selfishly thought about how much more meaningful it would be if I could find a way to make those same connections with, and inspire confidence in students in the classroom that I was experiencing on snow. The next day I enrolled full time for the following spring semester at the University of Alaska.

I was awarded my B.ed Elementary Education in 2003 and moved to California in 2004. My first classroom job was here at Orion. I knew as I was standing in the hallway, waiting for my interview and looking at the children’s mural that this place was the perfect place for me.

My philosophy of education is that it requires a community effort to inspire children to reach their full potential both as learners and as positive members of their social community. The Orion goal of teaching the whole child dovetails perfectly with all that I believe about positive education. I also believe that the only way to properly achieve those both of those goals is if parents are fully immersed in the educational experience of their children. A parent participation school is really the only model in which the community truly becomes part of the educational experience, and the needs of the community at large can be addressed by the educational opportunities children have at school.

I have found that the moments in which I see that gleam in those young eyes are far more frequent in a classroom with a strong community of participating parents. To that end I am very grateful to have the opportunity to return to Orion. I look forward to collaborating with the wonderful community that is Orion to inspire a lifelong love of education in our children.

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