By Steven Law
Special to the Chronicle
PAGE – Two Page school teachers were presented with a citizenship education teacher award by the Page Veterans of Foreign Wars No. 9632.
Both Terrie Simmons and Denise Boldin were each presented a Smart-Maher National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.
Simmons teaches art at Desert View Intermediate School and Boldin teaches pre-algebra at Page Middle School.
VFW Post Commander James Hall presented a Teacher of the Year Award to both Simmons and Boldin during a ceremony at the Elks Lodge last Tuesday evening. In addition to a plaque, the VFW also awarded each teacher with a check.
Simmons was nominated by Susan Tucker, the art teacher at Page High School.
“Terrie is one of the most outstanding, compassionate, dedicated, kind-hearted, creative teachers I have ever known,” Tucker said. “She embraces all cultures and integrates their Native traditions and teachings into her diverse curriculum to meet the needs of her young students in the Page, Arizona, and (the) Navajo Nation community. She can be found sharing her love of our country’s heroes in personal ways as she integrates their stories into her art curriculum.
“Tirelessly, she commits her time and her heart to her students. Terrie has always had a love for reading with her students. Terrie finds a variety of ways to touch the children’s hearts with her passion for true life hero stories. One of her favorite stories she shares with her students each year is, ‘The Unbreakable Code.’”
Simmons views her classroom as a sacred place where her students can learn art – but so much more. She also uses it as a platform to introduce her students to bigger aspects of the world outside the classroom. With such a goal in mind, Simmons recently invited one of the last living Navajo Code Talkers to visit her students and share his stories of the miraculous experiences he had as a Code Talker in World War II.
Simmons has an extra-mile mentality, such as inviting Native American Code Talkers to speak to her students, is one of the big reasons Tucker nominated her.
“With wide eyes and open hearts, the children listened intently (to the Code Talker),” Tucker said. “This would be an experience they would not soon forget but would be engrained in their memories for a very long time. You see, the students at Desert View are mostly Navajo. Their (maternal and paternal grandparents), aunties and uncles, older brothers and sisters, served in the wars, valiantly and with honor. With very little art supplies, Terrie innovates ways in which she can enhance the young students drawing and painting skills by integrating real life heroes into her art lessons.”
Many of Simmons’ students would develop a desire to serve their country later in life due to her inspiration.
“The precious seeds, planted within their hopes and dreams of being a war veteran as a young child, blossomed into personal life goals as young adults, enlisting in the service of their country,” Tucker said. “Terrie continues to make a difference in the lives of her students as she emanates and integrates her love of our country, our military, and our heroes.”
Denise Boldin is a math teacher at Page Middle School. She was nominated by VFW member Jeff Szabo.
“It was an easy choice, because she’s a great teacher,” Szabo said. “For a lot of students, math isn’t their favorite subject and because of that it can be tricky to get students interested in it, but she does it. She’s very interested in teaching them how to do the hard problems and get excited about math so they can advance their knowledge and prepare for college.”
“She’s also very supportive of school activities, whether her kids are involved or not,” Szabo continued.
Szabo and his family have been friends with Boldin for many years and has seen her interact with her students and former students on numerous occasions outside the classroom.
“Wherever we go with her, students of all ages come up to her and say hello, and they really light up when they see her,” Szabo said. “It’s pretty obvious by their reactions that she has had a positive effect on many of our students.”