Teacher, Coach, Veteran…. Inspiration.

A look into Mr. Simpson's life.

Michael Walstrom, Staff Writer

Mr. Todd Simpson is a man of many talents. From civics and psychology teacher to a war veteran to a track and cross country coach, he is one of the most interesting people in Greater Latrobe School District.

“I’ve been teaching 11 years, this is my first year in the senior high teaching psychology. All of the previous 10 years was teaching 8th grade civics. I was the in-school suspension supervisor for seven years before that and I substituted for five years before that,” said Simpson.

Through these experiences, Simpson has gathered many memories. He loves seeing kids grow and understand real life values.

“I could not pick a single specific memory but I know every year I really enjoy doing the budget activity with the 8th graders,” said Simpson.

In the budget activity, the kids get the chance to see how to do everyday things that adults must do to be successful such as going out and finding an apartment, buying a car, making payments, and paying their taxes.

“For them it’s a lot more work than I think they imagine but it’s a lot more fun too and when they get their hands on real life stuff, I really enjoy that.”

Simpson has taken on even more to his workload but he remains optimistic. What some would see as a burden and an annoyance, Simpson sees as an opportunity to become a better person and teacher.

“I’m enjoying the psychology-it’s a new experience to teach and it’s been awhile since I had psychology as a student. It’s been fun to dig back into that and remember the things I haven’t dealt with in a long time and to reacquaint myself with some students that I knew back as 8th graders but also to get a chance to deal with students who have developed and evolved three or four more years beyond the 8th grade,” said Simpson.

Coaching a team can always lead to unique experiences. Simpson coaches, not for the experiences or the glory of winning, but for the students.

“I like being able to work with the students on more of an informal basis and I like getting to know the kids who do the track events better than I would if they were just students in the classroom.”

He enjoys seeing students outside the classroom. He is very appreciative of the extra time that is built into an athletic schedule and gets to know his student athletes while doing different activities, workouts, and riding the bus from meet to meet.

“I’ve been coaching since before I was teaching so it’s cool to have students who I see in the class and who are also on my team,” said Simpson.

As a man of faith and a natural born leader, it is only natural that Mr. Simpson would help start a club that combines athletics, education, and faith-Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“I’ve been involved in the FCA since it started here at the junior and senior high schools. I like the FCA because it combines two things that are very important to me. It combines the athletic component of course being a coach, but it also gives me the opportunity to connect with students on a faith level and to sit down for a half an hour on a weekday afternoon and make that connection with what we believe and have few moments to share. It’s special to see a student open up about something that may be uncomfortable to talk about but I think it’s very important to be in touch with that part of who we are.”

Simpson also takes every bit of experience he receives and applies it to his real life and how he teaches.

“I think anything you do in your life can help you in teaching, it’s part of who you are and what you do. I look back beyond military stuff and I see that I changed my major a bunch of times in college and so it took me an extra year to finish and I came out with a degree in something I didn’t want so I ended up going back to school anyway to become a social studies teacher.”

However, he doesn’t believe that those years spent on his alternate career path were a waste. Optimistic as always, he believes that those experiences helped make him the type of person he is along with his military career.

“When it comes to life experiences, I had the opportunity to serve my country for a year in Iraq and saw some amazing things from a social studies teacher perspective. I also saw some frightening things and had to spend a lot of time away from my family.”

After all those experiences, Simpson is sure to have some amazing stories to tell. His hard work and dedication led him to Iraq with the army during the reconstruction of the Iraqi government and military. It was here that he found that language and culture barriers cannot stop humor.

“We talked about the military which reminds me of one of my favorite stories from Iraq. We didn’t have a lot of exposure to the Iraqi people in part because there was a lot of nervousness and anxiety about interactions on both sides especially when you think about some of the negative feelings that the Iraqi people had for us. But the Iraqi military was being rebuilt and trying in many cases to work alongside us. At the time the hope was that they would take over tasks that we were doing and would be able to have control of their own country. One instance that I did have a direct contact with an Iraqi soldier was when we were in the dining facility where we would eat our meals and I was sitting with a couple of my buddies and a group of their soldiers came in and sat down next to and across from us. They were jibber-jabbering back and forth in Arabic and one guy kept pointing to his hamburger and gesturing to his buddies and it caught my attention. At one point he kind of looked up and looked at me and I correctly assumed that he was not sure what kind of meat it was and Iraqis typically don’t eat pork so he wasn’t sure what the mystery meat was. He had had a quizzical look on his face and kept looking at me so I pointed to his burger and Mooed, you know, “MOOOO” and he and his buddies all started laughing and he doctored up his burger and went ahead and ate it.”

Todd Simpson is not only an amazing teacher who many admire fondly, but also an astounding leader, an extraordinary coach, and a supportive father. Senior Spencer Simpson had high praises of his father.

“He is always using his time to help others. Serving our country, serving the cross country team, his students, the school, and his family. His example is a big part of who I have become,” said Spencer.