Physics teacher Ted Simons left a lasting impression on at least one former student, but Simons said his dedication is no different than that of his colleagues at Voorheesville Central School District.
Karen Dawson of Voorheesville, — a senior chemical engineering, environmental engineering and political science honors program major at Clarkson University — nominated Simons for the college’s Inspirational High School Educator Award. Simons is one of four recipients to receive the award this year. Dawson said her experience with Simons at Voorheesville High School is what led her to her chosen field at the university.
Each year, Clarkson University seniors are asked to nominate a secondary education teacher who significantly affected their lives and helped guide their college and career decisions. The award seeks to recognize educators for their lasting impact on their students and fields of education.
Dawson said Simons would come into class every day with a smile and teach students by engaging them — not lecturing at them.
“Amid his lessons on equations and other material, he also showed us how these things could be applied to real life,” Dawson said. “He could relate scientific concepts to things I was interested in, and that made physics fascinating.”
Dawson said Simons would take time to listen to students and offered an “experienced perspective.” She said he got her thinking about a career in engineering, along with giving her advice that led her to attending Clarkson University.
“He has helped me and countless others identify our strengths and plot a course toward success and, perhaps more importantly, toward fulfillment,” she said. “He teaches students not only how to learn but why they should love to learn. He demonstrates why learning matters.”
Simons, of Selkirk, said he was thrilled when he heard he was selected for the award, which will be presented on Friday, May 9, during the university’s commencement activities.
This is his eighth year teaching physics and AP physics at Voorheesville High School.
“I try to bring my enthusiasm to class every day. I love the material and show them what I see,” he said. “I try to make sure we have fun while we are in class, too.”
He said any of the teachers at Voorheesville could be receiving the award, but he was just lucky enough to get chosen.
“Although I am honored to be recognized this way, I don’t think I do anything different than the other teachers at Voorheesville,” he said.
Simons said he also developed his passion for physics during high school, and views the field as the foundation for science.
“I see it as the rulebook for the universe, so I kind of like knowing the rules of the game,” he said.
Dawson said Simons’ passion for science showed her how to develop her own. After graduating, she plans to pursue her doctorate in nuclear engineering.
“He taught me that a career in engineering is so much more than equations and computer programs,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle of problem solving and working to make the world a better place.”
Engaging students is essential, Simons said, and science courses have the advantage of using labs to provide a “hands on” approach. He said it’s important for students to see concepts other than just looking at “writing on the board.”
Simons said there were many teachers he admired during high school, but the teachers who impressed him the most were his daughter’s college professors.
“Some of them were just so exceptional at inspiring her. I wanted this job to help affect others this way,” he said.