In Haitian Creole, Simon’s name is pronounced “See-mɔ̃”…that weird symbol is a nasalized “o” sound. He has brought his happy disposition to the third grade classroom in Lemuel’s school since 2014.
Q: What gives you the most joy in your classroom?
Simon: The environment in which I work is kept clean and well-ordered, and I have the materials I need at my disposal. Because of this, my students can learn. There are other schools where you might need a ruler, for example, to show the students a lesson, but the school doesn’t have one to give you to use.
Q: What is the greatest difficulty you confront?
Simon: Sometimes, new students who enter at the third grade level are very far behind the other students. It is really difficult to bring that student to where he/she needs to be while you are at the same time moving forward with the others. Also, it is difficult when parents are not following up with their kids at home to make sure they are studying and doing their homework.
Q: In your opinion, what importance does a teacher have within society?
Simon: I think a teacher has a lot of importance, even though [our] society doesn’t always see it that way. All of the engineers, agronomists, doctors, senators, presidents…they all were taught by a teacher. Teachers are a central pillar of a society.
Q: If you could describe your current class of children with one word, what word would you choose?
Simon: Excelsior. We are striving for excellence.
Q: In the future, what do you hope the kids who are in your class today can offer their country that the previous generation was not able to offer?
Simon: It is my wish that my students would value and pursue education, so that they can become good leaders. I hope that they will learn important skills that they can then use to bring stability and development to their country, so that things like health care and useful commodities can be more accessible.
Q: What are you teaching your students today that can help them realize this goal?
Simon: I aim to teach on all levels: socially, spiritually, culturally, etc. The education I give them today is a foundation for what they will learn and become in the future.
Q: What teacher had the greatest influence on you? How?
Simon: My sixth grade teacher was always clean and well put-together. He took his time when explaining the lessons, and he had a lot of patience. He respected principles and discipline. I admired these things. He is the one who inspired me to start thinking about becoming a teacher.