McDonough’s Simpson is a finalist for the Washington Post’s Teacher of the Year program
Few people are lucky enough to know what they want to do with their life when they are around 7 years old. Annemarie Simpson, Ph.D., a math teacher at Maurice J. McDonough High School, is one of the lucky few. “I fell in love with teaching in second grade,” she said. “My second grade teacher managed to instill in everyone this love of learning which was just amazing. I wanted to be a teacher since second grade and I never hesitated.
Simpson was named a 2022 Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Teacher of the Year program finalist and is the Charles County representative in The Washington Postof the Teacher of the Year program. At McDonough, she teaches Precalculus, Algebra II, and Advanced Level (AP) Statistics.
Four years after she was inspired to become a teacher, Simpson was in middle school when another teacher came into her life and gave her additional direction. “In sixth grade, I had an amazing math teacher who made learning math so much fun,” she said. “I decided in sixth grade to be a math teacher.”
While her sisters leaned more towards English lessons, Simpson always had a sense of numbers. “I am totally a math kid. It makes sense to me,” she said. “What I liked was that there was always an answer and if the answer was wrong, the teacher could say, ‘Here’s why your answer is wrong’ and explain those errors.”
Simpson strives to be the type of teacher like those who inspired her. 2020 graduate Jake Burgess credited Simpson as one of the teachers who eased his “tumultuous” transition to high school. After joining the math team – of which Simpson is the godfather – Burgess found something of a family during the team’s lunch meetings. “Ms. Simpson created such a welcoming and friendly environment during those short half-hour lunches,” he said. Simpson’s skills as a teacher were only amplified in the classroom. “The lessons were constantly innovative and interactive, turning math into tangible, understandable form,” Burgess said.
Simpson is a leader in the McDonough community and one of the school’s go-to people for Principal Darnell Russell. “She is a master of the art and science of the profession, adapting to change at any time and ready to pivot with grace and integrity,” Russell said.
She is known for her ability to connect and inspire students even during virtual teaching in the 2020-21 school year, said Maureen Mears, mother of McDonough senior Danny Mears. “My son said that learning precalculus from a distance [during the 2020-21 school year] was one of the hardest things he had done, but he excelled thanks to Mrs Simpson’s patience and grace,” Mears said.
Part of the family
Simpson grew up in Portsmouth, Ohio, and received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University. She earned a master’s degree in math education at Florida State University, her Ph.D. in Professional Studies in Education and an Administrator I Certificate from McDaniel College. When she got her bachelor’s degree, there weren’t many educational opportunities available in Pennsylvania. She attended a job fair and heard about CCPS. At the time, a long-term substitute teacher held the job at McDonough. He was a great sub, Simpson said, and he was willing to drop out if the school hired a new young teacher. Simpson has been with McDonough for – over 20 years.
“Charles County is my home. I’ve been at McDonough for 20 years,” she said. “It would be weird to leave. I guess I’m sentenced to life now. Outside of the classroom, Simpson has served as an assistant professor of mathematics at the College of Southern Maryland, helped write the core mathematics curriculum for the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), and authored AP statistics and a precalculation program for the CCPS. She is McDonough’s math team sponsor, chair of the school’s math department, and coaches the varsity swim team. She swam in high school and was at McDonough for about two years when the idea of taking an assistant coaching position was floated. Soon, she became the men’s and women’s varsity swimming coach. In 2019, she was named the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference (SMAC) Swim Coach of the Year. Through coaching, she was able to build stronger relationships with students and their parents. “You get to know kids on a different level,” Simpson said.
She was honored by the Board of Education in December 2017 as an Outstanding McDonough Employee and in 2005 through the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative’s (SMECO) Outstanding Math and Science Teachers Award Program. When she was named one of five finalists for CCPS 2022 Teacher of the Year, Simpson said she was shocked. “I think Charles County has amazing teachers,” she said. “There are some amazing teachers in this county and to be shortlisted as one of the finalists is very shocking. There are many, many people who deserve it. In addition to Simpson, finalists included Morghan Hungerford, a second grade teacher at Arthur Middleton Elementary School, who was named CCPS Teacher of the Year for 2022. Other finalists this year were Ryan Amore, resource teacher educational, at JC Parks Elementary School; Barbara Anderson, kindergarten teacher, Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School; and Brittany Thorne, fifth grade teacher, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School.
For Simpson, her love of learning drives her to seek out new opportunities and challenges that can be used to enhance her students’ experiences in the classroom. “I am one of those people who like to learn. There’s always new research coming out and different strategies…the new technology out there…there’s always something to learn,” Simpson said. This is something she hopes to have instilled in her students. “I hope they don’t lose their love of learning,” she says. “I try to instill a love of learning and tell them, ‘You can learn anything if you put your mind to it.'”
After more than two decades as a teacher, Simpson said she couldn’t consider leaving the education field. “Teaching is a vocation. It’s a rewarding profession,” Simpson said. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
About the SCPC
Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 K-12 students with an academically stimulating education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that provide a technologically advanced, progressive, and high-quality education that builds character, prepares for leadership, and prepares students for life, careers, and life. ‘Higher Education.
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