Prof. Deborah Simon
Gifted education is one of those new frontiers in education that is so often overlooked. Most people think gifted kids not only don’t have challenges but don’t even need to try very hard to succeed. Unfortunately, that belief leads to confusion and defeat for the gifted learner who understands it to mean that failure is not an option. I want to change that because reaching every learner is my focus as a teacher. I find it both fascinating to discover what these very real challenges are and rewarding to explore with students how they can overcome them.
Teaching minds that would otherwise go untaught with the assumption that they don’t need special consideration lets me explore and connect old methods in new ways. I use interactive assignments like escape rooms, small group activities such as web quests, weekly presentations that prompt learning through teaching, optional competitive activities, Socratic discussions, and student-led help sessions, among other things that focus on student choice and critical thinking skills.
I found myself teaching online almost by accident. After the school system failed us and my husband and I decided to homeschool our gifted daughters, I figured going back to teaching would have to wait. Then I came across Athena’s when Prof. Molly suggested it, and I’m so glad I did! Teaching is my true passion. I love figuring out ways to make the material more understandable for kids and adults. My classes reflect my varied tastes, but they all intersect in so many ways. We talk about Trial Law tactics in Rhetoric, Conflict Resolution, and Writing, and vice versa. Several literature titles from College Prep & AP add to the discussions in other classes, too. My ultimate goal is to make learning interesting and accessible. Writing, for example, is a real challenge. I want to make it something of a puzzle to be solved AND provide the solution—something many writing classes never do for students. I love to have adults join classes either along with their students or for their own enjoyment. I believe we’re all students, and, keeping the desire to learn alive is what makes us better.
When she was in the sixth grade, Deborah decided to either go into education or the law and, as it turns out, she got to do both! Deborah taught for over ten years in almost every grade including writing, British & American Literature, and Advanced Placement English Literature & Composition. She had a second career as a corporate paralegal for over five years, working alongside the in-house counsel, editing contracts, and maintaining records for subsidiaries in all 50 states. She then went back to teaching, focusing on high school English and completed a Master’s in Education with an emphasis in gifted education. She homeschools their two gifted daughters, one of whom is twice-exceptional. Deborah started a local support group for parents of gifted children and worked closely with several local school districts as they implemented new gifted education requirements in Washington State. She has spoken at the statewide teacher, school board, and Native American education conferences about gifted and twice-exceptional students and their needs. She also recently started a career in the fiber arts! Discovering ways to make material understandable and accessible is her passion.
Fun fact: Deborah is a recent below-the-knee amputee and looking forward to running and hiking with her family.
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