Woodrow Wilson Fellow Takes Lifelong Passion for Helping Others into the Classroom

Jordan Simmons, a 201x-201x Woodrow Wilson Ohio Fellow, was pursuing a career in the medical field when a volunteer opportunity sparked a desire to teach.



Q: When did you become interested in the teaching profession and what is your academic background?

A: I’ve always enjoyed teaching. I always used to enjoy teaching my younger brother what I was learning in school. I even helped him learn to read!  As I grew older, I knew I loved to help people and excelled academically in math and science. This is where I began to pursue a career in the medical field. My undergraduate degree was in neuroscience, and I completed all of the medical school prerequisites. Coincidently, during my time at UC, I volunteered in a ministry called Young Life. Unintentionally, I became involved in their urban part of the ministry. I began volunteer coaching at Hugh STEM High School and created a Bible study with some of the girls. It was through the relationships that I built with those girls that my desire to teach was rekindled. I wanted every student to be able to have competent teachers who cared about them and knew their field of study.

Q: How has the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship impacted your studies and career preparation?

A: Spending a whole year in the school student teaching was extremely valuable. Other alternative teacher programs train you over a summer or a short time and throw you into teaching immediately. I think that would be extremely difficult because the first year of teaching is hard enough. The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship connected us with experienced teachers to observe the ups and downs of the year and to support us as we started to teach in classrooms. Thanks to the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship my first year of teaching was not nearly as difficult as it could be for others because I felt so well prepared.

Q: What makes you passionate about science and being a teacher?

A: I’m passionate about science because I think it is a beautiful display of how intricately our world works. It explains so much about the world around us. I am constantly fascinated the more I learn about it. I’m passionate about teaching students about science because I want them to be informed citizens. I don’t want them to go out into the world, hear all of the millions of “scientific” claims, and believe everything they come across. I want them to be able to use the knowledge they’ve attained in my classroom and use it to decide where they stand on a certain issue.

Q: Can you tell us about the ASU + GSV Education Innovation Summit program you have been accepted into?

A: This was a conference where investors and designers met to propose new ideas for education technology. Ironically, there were very few teachers there. I hope that businesses and people investing in education products are consulting more teachers as they are the consumer of most of those products.

Q: How has being a Woodrow Wilson Fellow benefited your career?

A: I think that schools have been really excited to hire us because of our strong content knowledge. The Woodrow Wilson Fellowship has definitely given me something to put behind my name to be able to talk about the quality education I’ve been given.