Retiring Rutherford English Teacher Wins Golden Apple Award

By: Meredith TerHaar Email
By: Meredith TerHaar Email

Panama City - This week's Golden Apple award winner teaches English to 9th and 10th graders at Rutherford High School, but not for much longer. Joy Simonson is retiring in June after touching the lives of thousands of students over 44 years. "I don't know what I'm going to do with myself really. This is all I've ever done," laughed Mrs. Simonson.

The last 20 years of Joy Simonson's 44 year teaching career were spent in the same classroom at Rutherford High. If the walls could talk they'd speak of a woman passionate about her subject and dedicated to her students. "She has a really magnificent way of reaching her kids and motivating them to be the best they can be as students," said Michael Kennedy, Rutherford High School Principal.

"I didn't like English all that much but she makes it really fun. Right now we are studying Julius Caesar, and I was flipping through the book, and I thought I'm not going to like this, not one bit, but as we've gone through the book I've just loved it," said Kaitlyn Huntsinger, a sophomore. "It's really hard but she makes it really fun at the same time," said Thong Nguyen, one of the five students who nominated her. "With her anecdotes and the things that she tells us, she is so vivacious and full of life, she is just a wonderful person," said Naba Zabih, another student who nominated her.

She works to prepare her students for the ever-changing world. "The jobs that they are going to have don't exist right now. I can't understand that and they can't understand that either, but I know it's true," said Mrs. Simonson. What we know will exist, the profession of teaching. "If you are passionate about your subject, if you are passionate about your students, then you will be a good teacher," said Mrs. Simonson.

Congratulations to Joy Simonson, this week's Golden Apple award winning teacher. "This has been one of the best years of my teaching career. It's good to end on a good year," said Mrs. Simonson.

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