Bringing history to life and imparting that knowledge on the next generation has fueled Olivia Simpson’s ambition for years.
Her dreams will become reality this month when she officially claims the title of “teacher” after completing her degree at Southeast Missouri State University.
“Graduating from Southeast has been a dream of mine since seventh grade,” Simpson said. “I came with a college prep course in middle school to the Southeast campus and immediately fell in love. It feels like one of my greatest dreams has come true from graduating as a teacher from Southeast.”
Simpson, of Park Hills, Missouri, will graduate from Southeast with a Bachelor of Science in Education, secondary education, social studies emphasis. Beginning this August, she will teach American and world history at Malden (Missouri) High School.
“I have wanted to be an educator since I was little. I saw the impact teachers had on students and I wanted to contribute to that,” Simpson said. “I love helping people and have always loved history so I felt it was my life mission to pass my knowledge on to people.”
Experiences in and out of classroom at Southeast have helped to prepare her for a teaching career. Her professors in the Department of History and Anthropology and the Department of Leadership, Middle and Secondary Education have gone above and beyond to shape her as a student and person, Simpson said.
“They care about each student and want to see us succeed wholeheartedly,” she said. “They are so passionate about history. When you’re surrounded by people who love what they do, it solidifies that what you want to do is the right path.”
Southeast also provided her the opportunity to live in the Secondary Scholars Learning Community, where they could share their common academic interests. As a freshman, Simpson connected with fellow education majors, faculty and advisors, and participated in special study sessions focused on success in the education curriculum.
Simpson was also an active member of Southeast’s Secondary Social Studies Educators Association which allowed her to learn from other students, engage with faculty and take part in one-on-one communication with professionals.
“We had many adventures in Chicago (Illinois) learning from the best in the business,” she said.
One of the greatest highlights of her time at Southeast was a two-week study abroad trip to the Bavarian Alps where students immersed in the new culture and enjoyed excursions throughout Germany and Austria.
“It was not only educational but life-changing as well,” she said. “It gave me first-hand experience in the local history and how it has influenced the entire world. I hope to apply my experience with my students to show them and encourage to always take advantage of traveling.”
Simpson also hopes to help her future students connect history with current events.
“Social studies are such a wide topic that everything we do involves social studies in some way,” she said. “I think it’s important to know our history to be able to make informed decisions about our future. I was influenced by amazing teachers throughout my educational career that have shaped that.”
Simpson is looking forward to starting her new career at Malden High School. In addition to teaching American and World History, she will also be assisting in History Day in Missouri and with the Scholar Bowl Team.
“What excites me the most about the career I’ve chosen is it’s always evolving and changing,” Simpson added. “We are living in historic times as we speak, and I get to have the chance to teach my students about that. I’m excited to share my interest in both world and local history with my students and hopefully encourage many to find what they are truly passionate about. I truly am thankful to be a part of such a loving and welcoming school district and cannot wait to begin.”