Alice Simonson named Teacher of the Year


Gabby Viana, Staff Writer

     Educators have a responsibility to meet the educational needs of all students. In order to do so, they must acknowledge, comprehend, and show respect for the viewpoints, diverse backgrounds, values, and motivational styles that students bring to class. To Shore Regional High School’s foreign/ ESL teacher, Alice Simonson, this has never been an issue to accomplish.

     Simonson has an incredibly extensive past regarding her teaching experience. Since 1995, Simonson has been a devoted educator at Shore Regional. Prior to joining Shore, she worked as a student teacher for a half year at Nottingham High School, as a paternity substitute for a half year at Voorhees High School in Hunterdon, and as a summer instructor at Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her classroom experience does not stop there. She also worked as a language and foreign studies teacher for the NJ Governor’s School. While participating in a Fulbright teacher exchange, she worked as a teacher at Lycee Galandou Diouf in Senegal, West Africa. Simonson also has a specialty in working with other age groups as well; she taught at college level. She began as a language aide and adjunct at Mercer County Community College, moved to Brookdale, and most recently worked at Monmouth University. A constant factor that she carries with her throughout every school she has worked at through the years is her endless devotion to helping students and her fellow faculty members  exceed their potential and become the best individuals they can be.

     Simonson had always known that she wanted to contribute to building a safe atmosphere for kids in a place where she felt inspired and encouraged by prodigious coworkers who consistently produce exceptional learning for pupils. She was raised by two incredible educators—her mother, a childbirth educator who later became a lactation consultant, and her father, a speech pathologist and audiologist—so she had always known the great impact she could have on other people’s lives. She also grew up in a very supportive, involved school environment. Although she received average grades in French class, she had always had a passion for French culture. She had the wonderful fortune to travel to a French sister school in Paris for two weeks with her high school, and a while later, her family hosted a French exchange “sister,” Christelle, for two weeks. She also had the opportunity to participate in a couple additional international travel programs, including one to Japan. She had considered becoming an English professor for some time but her heart always layed with international experiences and education.

     “I remember struggling to prepare for all of my preps as well as fighting to keep my students signing up for the next level of the language,” Simonson confessed in an interview. Despite the struggles that she had experienced her first few years employed at Shore as the only French teacher, she persevered and now has the satisfaction of knowing that her students stick with her to continue learning the language because she has shared her love of the language and culture with these students as well as them appreciating learning from her.

     The high school kids she teaches now have the pleasure of learning from Ndioba Dieye, a local Senegalese educator who taught students the French language and francophone culture, because she sought after and was chosen as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in 2000–2001. CIEE Global Navigator summer study abroad scholarships, sister school relationships and exchanges with French and Italian schools, F1 exchange students attending our school and residing in our community with amazing host families, and Global Gab student-centered lecture series are just a few of the many opportunities provided by the successful international program at Shore. The students and the school community that the abroad/international program offers is owed to her untamed dedication towards her profession and the individuals who fill her workplace. Her  students have also been able to receive college credits from Monmouth University in their fourth year of French language study, all as a result of her decision to pursue an MA in French and have an indescribable impact on others lives.

     I could not think of a greater teacher to receive the title of “teacher of the year” than Alice Simonson, who skillfully balances her years of ambition, commitment, and enthusiasm toward her job while also spending quality time with her husband and daughters, and maintaining a well-rounded life outside of work.