Zephyr senior wants to help others after her own challenges

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
Jennifer Simpson

ZEPHYR — Zephyr High School senior Jennifer Simpson said she knows what it is to struggle.

The 18-year-old has overcome dyslexia, Irlene syndrome — which, like dyslexia, impacts reading — and short-term memory loss.

Because of her own struggles, Simpson — who was recently selected as a recipient of the Mary Michaels Memorial Scholarship — wants to become a special education teacher.

She plans to attend Cisco College and later Tarleton State University. She hopes to work in a small community, but will go “wherever God leads me to because He’s the one in charge of everything,” Simpson said. “I go where He thinks best for me.”

Simpson is the daughter of Ricky and Rhonda Simpson of Zephyr and is the youngest of seven children.

Simpson has worked hard to make it this far in her education, and she is determined to reach her goal of becoming a special education teacher.

"I want to become a teacher because I know what it is like to struggle every day in school," Simpson said. "Without the years of supportive and encouraging teachers, I do not know if I’d be graduating this year.

"One day, I want to be that supportive and caring teacher for other students. I believe I will be a good teacher because I am patient, kind and reassuring. I love helping children learn to believe in themselves and reach their goals. I know what students who have learning disabilities need in a teacher, and I am determined to be that for them."

Simpson said a couple of factors influenced her when she was younger toward working in special education. Her older sister sometimes took care of a special needs child, and when Simpson was a cheerleader at Seals Gymnastics, she worked with a special needs team. 

“That’s when I realized that’s what I wanted to do,” Simpson said. “I wanted to help kids.”

She was diagnosed with short-term memory loss as a fifth-grader.

“It got to the point where I would read something, and by the time I got to the questions on the test, I had no clue what I just read,” Simpson said, noting that teachers “were so patient with me.”

She learned to compensate for memory issues using tactics such as writing things down on sticky notes.

As a Zephyr student, Simpson has played basketball and been a cheerleader, and has been involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the FFA. She attends Zephyr Baptist Church.

“I love helping children learn to believe in themselves and reach their goals,” Simpson said. “I know what students who have learning disabilities need in a teacher, and I am determined to be that for them."