Amber Simmons got her BA in English from Brenau Women’s College where she was initiated at Lambda Chapter. She then got her Masters of Education from Georgia State University and her Doctorate in Language and Literacy from the University of Georgia. She currently teaches AP Language and Composition to seniors at Brookwood High School in Gwinnett County and heads the AP Capstone program at her school. She is married to Matthew Simmons, a Sigma Chi from GA Tech, and is the mother of two: Graham, who is three years old, and Ivy Claire who is 5 months old.
Simmons was recently named one of the best English teachers in the United States by the National Council of Teachers of English. She tells us why she wanted to be a teacher, her favorite part, and how it felt to receive this honor.
Why did you want to become a teacher?
Truthfully, I wanted to read books for a living. I quickly realized that not many professions would pay me to do that all day, so teaching English was a way to fulfill that pipe dream while also instilling a love of literature in the youth I encountered. I chose to teach high school instead of other grade levels because I love where teenagers are, developmentally, in their lives while in high school. They are starting to construct how they see the world and themselves and literature can play a positive role in helping them self-actualize.
What is your favorite part about teaching?
I love so many things about teaching. I love it when a student reads a novel and expresses their newfound understanding of a human experience that was once foreign to them. I also love watching them grow into their adulthood, bubbling with potential, and imagining all the wonderful things they will do to improve our world—cure cancer, stop global warming, write the next great American novel…the many directions that their lives can take are limitless.
How does it feel to be named one of the best English teachers in the U.S.?
I am incredibly honored. To be honest, being a teacher, like being a parent, comes with many doubts—doubts about whether I am choosing the right lessons and texts, making a difference, being effective, etc. And like being a parent, we don’t often get recognition for the sacrifices and effort we put into creating meaningful learning experiences for our students, especially in the current political climate. Getting this award is affirmation of my choice to become a teacher and that I am making a difference, which is my ultimate goal.