Obituary of Ann Simmons
ANN SNYDER SIMMONS (age 80) of Reston, VA passed away October 24, 2018.
It, was stated by one of Ann’s faculty colleagues, “If God were going to make the Perfect Reading Specialist - Elementary School Teacher, he could find no one better than Ann Simmons to use for the model.”
Ann began her teaching career in 1960, after graduating from Longwood College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She married Howell Simmons in June 1963 and the 90 children she had taught in the first grade over her first three years, insisted on coming to the wedding. Hence she organized these 90 children to sit in the church balcony with one mother per 10 children. After the wedding prior to the primary reception Ann and Howell held a special reception for Anns 90 students. This was typical of Ann. Her students always came first in her 43 year teaching career from 1960 – 2003.
One week after the wedding, Ann and Howell moved to California where Ann taught two years of first grade in Ventura County, CA. She was immediately recognized as a Super Star teacher and her Principal always showed off Ann’s class room performances to their School’s distinguished visitors. During one of her students reading sessions, the Principal and Visitors watched and listened for several minutes and then left the room in excessive laughter. When Ann later questioned her Principal, he stated her students discussed the paragraphs read normally; however, all her students would read with Ann’s southern accent.
As a young woman Ann had a beautiful southern accent. One friend in California commented that with Ann’s large blue eyes her looks equaled Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone With The Wind”. However, her accent was superior.
In 1968, Howell was called on active duty in the Air Force for three years and they moved to Maren County, CA. With her style, personality, charm, southern accent, and five years of teaching experience she easily obtained several teaching offers and chose a position at an elementary school near the Air Force Base. A few months after arrival Howell was assigned to 5 months temporary duty at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton Ohio. Immediately she became a substitute teacher in the Dayton City School system, and every place she taught wanted her for the entire five months she would be in Ohio.
One school Ann substituted in was an elementary school in the middle of a rundown government housing community. This community was occupied by poor people, mostly on welfare, that came from areas of Kentucky and Ohio. Most students were under dressed for the cold Dayton, OH weather. Most students walked to school daily in rain or snow. Students with their inadequate wet shoes, socks, and sweaters, dried these items on the radiators.
Also, most children had not eaten breakfast. Ann has always been drawn to the neediest children and adults that need the most care, generally due to health or income. She begin taking several cartons of milk and boxes of cereal to school each day to feed her class breakfast. After breakfast, she would begin her class singing happy songs. With this warm caring treatment and Ann’s winning personality the children enjoyed themselves and learned well in class.
Quickly she became the Super Star Teacher with all the parents due to the children bragging about their beautiful teacher, who fed them breakfast, sang songs, and taught them to read. Many parents visited the school to meet MS Simmons and thank her excessively about their children’s happiness and reading progress. She remained at this school the remainder of her time in Ohio, because the children were so poor and needed much more care, and nurturing than children in the typical Dayton City Elementary School System.
After Howell’s three years in the Air Force ended, they moved to Northern Virginia where she received teaching offers in several elementary schools in Fairfax County, VA. As the years went by she taught several levels of classes in various Elementary Schools. In 1976 she earned a Master’s Degree in Education with a specialty in Reading Education, from VA Tech. This was accomplished thru night course attendance. She was number one in her Master’s Degree program receiving one B+ and A’s in all her other courses. Also she took the National Exam for Reading Teachers and earned a Certificate of Reading Specialist. In 1986 she was vote by her pears to be “Reading Teacher of the Year” in the state of Virginia.
Ann retired from the class room in 1994. She then worked in Fairfax County School System for two years in various Headquarter positions. One of her responsibilities was coordination with Colleges to place Student Teachers in various schools in the County. Also, Ann was required to evaluate Student Teachers’ performances to their respective Universities and Fairfax County Education Department. She also taught Work Shops in “Practical Class Room Teaching” to Master’s Degree candidates at GMU.
Before the end of her two years in front office Admiration position, she missed interfacing with children in classrooms as a practicing Reading Specialist. Hence she took the position of Reading Specialist in the Falls Church City School System. She performed in this position from 1997 – 2002, and before she could fully retire, Fall Church City School System, talked her in to come to their Headquarters to write new curriculum for Kindergarten & First Grade. In 2003, after 43 years in Elementary Education mostly teaching in six school system in three states she fully retired.
In 2003, after 43 years in Elementary Education teaching in six public school systems in three states she full retired.
Ann was a Super Star in many things both in the classroom and in her private life. She had an abundance of energy, many interests and strong interest in helping people, particularly those that had the most needs. Other facets of Ann Simmons:
Education Mentor Roll
Her husband commented that he estimated at least 12 young teachers have come to him at various faculty social events, over Ann’s 43 years in education, and have stated to him “. . I would never have become a class room teacher if it were not for Ann”. Most often their story was they could not control their class room. As their respective Principals notice this new teacher may be drowning. The Principal would ask Ann to meet with this new teacher and try to help her. After a brief discussion with new teacher, Ann would observe this person teach for half a day. Ann would then teach the second half day or possibly one day. She might have discussion with the new teacher on their respective methods. With few exceptions, most often the new teacher would follow Ann’s guidelines and succeed. How appreciative these younger teachers were for Ann’s mentoring.
Tutor & Education Advisor Services Roll
Ann gained the reputation for being able to teach any child to read. She did not try to create a Reading Tutor and Education Advisor Service, but she could not avoid helping people’s children, particularly children with difficult reading problems that had not been solved by a School System.
One case was a wife of a famous Pro Football Player, who phoned and asked Ann to tutor her son. The Mother apologized for throwing out her husband’s name, but commented she was desperate and all references to possible tutors for her difficult reading situation were Ann Simmons. Ann took the case. The boy was about 7 but already was size of a 10 year old boy. His Dad was a huge defensive lineman. The young boy was teased unmercifully as being stupid by fellow students.
Ann was quickly able to help him and he made quick progress in his reading ability. After a few tutoring session the Boy’s mother told Ann that her son in his nightly prayers asked God to keep Ms. Simmons safe and not let her die because she was teaching him to read.
A second case was a Northern VA land developer who knew Howell and heard about his wife and asked if he would urge her to tutor his son. This boy was probably in the fourth of fifth grade and could not read a sentence. He was a teaching challenge. Most often children that cannot read after several years in school develop such difficult behaviors to divert and avoid reading. However, Ann had experienced this type of child many times and knew how to handle this bigger type of reading challenge.
Fast forward, this boy was able to become a Civil Engineering Student at Penn State. Recently he phoned Howell that he past the VA State Professional Engineers Exam. Further, he emphasized, College and becoming a Professional Civil Engineer, was only possible due to MS. Simmons teaching him to read. His Father phoned Howell a few days later with similar comments.
Needy and Poor
Often Ann identified poor-needy students in her class room or reading specialist duties and before long she filled these students’ family refrigerators and pantry every two weeks. One family Ann took cared for about 5 years. She even took the youngest, 4th child, on Ann’s annual family beach facations.
Ann was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2006. From 2010 to 2013, Ann would spend about 8 hours, 5 days a week at Insight Memory Care Center, a day care center for people with dementia challenges. She thought she was a volunteer worker at the Center, and she gravitated to the most pitiful people there that needed the most understanding assistance. As Ann’s close friends and Family commented, “That’s Ann”.
Ann loved everything that have to do with flowers as a teenager and young woman she made all the flower arrangements for her Mother, and active Garden Club Member. Usually these arrangements won blue ribbons for her Mother.
Until Ann lost most of her normal cognitive abilities she was always interested in flowers. She had so many flowers planted around her home that neighbors and friends continued to talk about her flowers. Her husband did a lot of planting and weeding and love the accolades Ann received. Unfortunately all this deteriorated and disappeared from the Simmons yard when Ann developed Alzheimer’s disease.
Ann was the ultimate. She was a great cook and could serve elegant meals with no effort. Also when attending her husband’s company events, (he was president of his Civil Engineering Consultant Firm the last 29 years he work), Ann would work the crowd to greet and speak to everyone.
She was also a great dancer. She and her husband loved to dance and people like to watch them particularly in fast dances such as Single Swing and Cha Cha.
Ann was the daughter of Edwin Glenn Snyder, Sr. and Clara Ann McGee. She was their third child born March 28, 1938 in Roanoke, VA. She was a big surprise as her two brothers were born 12 & 10 years before her. She received BS in Elementary Education from Longwood College, 1960, and MS in Education with Specialization in Reading, from VA Tech, 1976. She worked in many areas of Elementary Education, specializing in reading for 43 years.
She married Howell Simmons, from Herndon, VA, in 1963. They had two children, Bradley Howell Simmons, and Anne McGee Stanford. Also four grandchildren, Clara Ashley Simmons, Wesley Austin Stanford, Bryce Howell Stanford and Lindsay Anne-McGee Stanford.
Ann developed Alzheimer’s disease in 2005. She was a home until 2013 with her husband as the principal care giver. From 2013 to 2018 she lived at Great Falls Assisted Living. She was truly special and will be missed.