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Rich Simpson is a Year 6 teacher, Literacy Lead, from the Isle of Wight in the UK. He blogs about books and kindness and started the hashtag #kindnessripple on Twitter. After talking with Rich about his growing up in Northern Ireland and learning a little about his story, I was excited to learn more. Enjoy!
Growing up in Northern Ireland I was part of a single-parent family, living with my younger brother and sister, and mum. My dad left when we were young (I was 6 or 7) and we rarely saw him again after that – I had no relationship with him at all. I saw him once again when I was 13 and we went to visit him in Hong Kong. he died a couple of years later. I have since discovered that I have a half-brother called Fred from his next relationship, and we have connected – I met him for the first two years ago when he came to visit and we are in contact – he lives in the U.S.!
We were a foster family, so we had a large number of children living with us as I grew up in placements of varying lengths, and I always wanted to do something related to working with children as a job (though after I had fulfilled my ambition of being in the army as all my relatives had done!).
What it was like as a student
Life was tricky – possibly due to the unrest at home I was not a happy child and didn’t enjoy early school – I was excluded from pre-school and only allowed into primary if medicated (I started school on Valium!). A teacher called Mrs. Riddle spoke to my mum and persuaded her to let me try books as an alternative, and it changed everything…
I still didn’t have a great school life – I changed school at 8 due to issues around anxiety and the school I was attending, and this continued all through right until I left high school at 18 for university – I had few friends and was subjected to horrific bullying as an ‘outsider’ at a large all-boys secondary school.
Make sure you listen to what Rich shares about his experience with the Ulster Project Delaware
Moving to the UK
I left Northern Ireland to go to university in 1997 and have never gone back, staying in the UK and teaching since then (apart from a year spent traveling and working elsewhere in 2006 after my attempts to join the army went wrong!). I now live with my beautiful wife, Jade, and our two children, Isla and Finn, on the Isle of Wight, working in a small primary school as a Y6 teacher, and senior leader.
Outside of school, I blog about education and books on my website www.whatiread.co.uk and start the #kindnessripple hashtag on Twitter each Thursday, which I founded in lockdown this year after writing a blog about kindness in the classroom for Twinkl (an educational resource website)
Not always wanting to be a teacher
- Worked as crew for a month on a multi-million-pound super-yacht owned by a banker in London, who wanted it sailed around the Med so he could fly in for the odd weekend;
- Worked as a TEFL teacher in Bond street in London;
- Went to lots of concerts (Foo Fighters 2 weeks in a row, anyone?);
- Lived at a fight school in Thailand, training for 3 hours a day at Muay Thai for 3 months (I have never been so fit!), and sparred with a world-champion;
- Qualified as a PADI ‘Rescue Diver’ and nearly died after getting stuck in a shipwreck
Why books matter so much to you
As a lifelong lover of books, I’m incredibly lucky to be a teacher and (hopefully) pass that on to others. I’ve started www.whatiread.co.uk as a way of sharing my love of books with an even wider audience.
Inspired by Twitter, I’m going to post regularly with thoughts and musings on books, reading, and teaching (though I won’t be held to sticking to that list!).
See what I’ve been reading in my blog, browse my site, learn about my literary loves, and find a book that excites and interests you as well.
If you really like, you can ‘Donate‘ a book from my Amazon wishlist for me to write about! Once read, books will be donated to my school/class library.
The Kindness Ripple
I started the #kindnessripple this year in lockdown after I wrote a blog for an education company in the UK called Twinkl.
Blog link: https://www.twinkl.co.uk/blog/kindness-is-my-number-one-attribute
I included this transcript of a conversation that Roald Dahl had…
“I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage or bravery or generosity or anything else.
Brian Sibley: Or brains even?
Oh gosh, yes, brains is one of the least. You can be a lovely person without brains, absolutely lovely. Kindness – that simple word. To be kind – it covers everything, to my mind. If you’re kind that’s it.”
Roald Dahl, in conversation with Brian Sibley
This (and some other reading and influences) made me think, and the #kindnessripple came off the back of that!
Rich’s Contact Information
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For more information about Barbara’s new book, Define Your WHY, go to this page or click on the image of the book for resources, questions, and links.