A great loss at Middle Township High School

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To the editor:

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

Whenever I read or hear Henry Adams famous quote I immediately think about the outstanding, dedicated, and hardworking teachers that educated me at Avalon Elementary School and Middle Township High School. One of those educators was my AP American Government and Politics teacher at Middle Township High School: Mr. Bill Simmons.

I was saddened to learn of Mr. Simmons' passing late last week. I first met Mr. Simmons during my sophomore year at MTHS. He was the teacher in charge of my study hall in the afternoon. My senior year several of my friends and I decided to enroll in AP American Government and Politics, mods 5 and 6, instructed by Mr. Simmons.

Mr. Simmons' knowledge and enthusiasm of government and politics was quickly evident to all of the students in the class. Whether it was analyzing United States Supreme Court decisions, writing position papers on potential vice-presidential nominees, or addressing the class about the merits of a flat or graduated tax system, Mr. Simmons had an uncanny ability to challenge a student to understand all sides of government policy and form opinions based on evidence and reason, as opposed to emotion or political sound bites.

Many of the lessons he taught could never be found on a lesson plan template. Compassion, understanding, tolerance, and justice were common themes in his teaching, regardless of the unit of study. Mr. Simmons certainly taught me the meaning of the phrase, “It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

On May 19, 2004, as a year end trip, Mr. Simmons took our class to Philadelphia to see the National Constitution Center, Independence Hall, 30th Street Station, and other historical sights around the city. I will be forever grateful for this trip because we used SEPTA all day to get around the city. That first experience using SEPTA and navigating the city proved invaluable to me when I began my first teaching job in the Philadelphia School District.

It was educators like Mr. Simmons who influenced me to enter the profession of teaching. He was a good and decent man who cared very much about his life's work. He truly has affected eternity.

Erich Wolf

Avalon

 

Editor’s note: a memorial service is planned for Mr. Simmons at Radzieta Funeral Home, 9 Hand Ave. in Cape May Court House, Friday, March 30 starting at 6 p.m.

 


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