Teacher Spotlight: Tim Simon


M.P. King / Wisconsin State Journal

Tim Simon, MHS physics teacher, is actively involved in the MHS community as a coach and a club advisor. He is known for his engaging physics classes as well as his presence at events around the school. Why does he make the effort to show up? One of his favorite quotes, he said. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Lauren Lamson

As most MHS students know, Tim Simon’s ASR is a jumble of activity. He calls out reminders for FlexiSched attendance over muddied drums of chords springing out of the piano in the corner. Chess boards stage friendly competitions upon the lab tables while physics students puzzle out problems at their desks. 

Dressed in hand-drawn, hand-made posters, the classroom brims with an inviting atmosphere. The door is always open, and music plays at the beginning of each class period before daily trivia games, ranging from Rachmaninoff to 1980s pop. 

“I want the classroom to be an enjoyable place to be,” Simon, MHS science teacher, explained. “I always felt as a student, if I looked forward to going to a class, I got more out of that class… I invite students to be there. They look forward to class. And if they do that, just by accident, they’re going to get more out of the actual curriculum than they think.”

In many ways, Simon’s ASR mirrors his attitude toward most things at MHS: one of support and curiosity. As a football and basketball coach, Simon can be found at the field or court most days after school, but he makes sure to attend events in the arts as well. 

“It helps students know that I care about them,” he said. “The secondary reason: I like those things. My whole life I’ve been an athlete, and I’m now a coach. I’ve been involved in athletics, but I have always been involved in music too.”

Simon played the trumpet throughout middle and high school, and as the piano in his classroom suggests, he is passionate about piano despite never having learned how to play.

Athletics were also a key force in shaping Simon’s high school years, when he played football, baseball, basketball, and ran track. That is part of the reason he coaches today. 

“Somebody said this to me years ago when I started teaching,” he said. “Kids won’t remember an English lesson from high school, but they’re going to remember that practice or that game.”

His football coach senior year was demanding. He challenged him, but he also taught him about himself. Now that he is a coach himself, Simon tries to impart lessons on his players, though he is quick to say that coaching style today is very different from the past, milder and less aggressive.

In the physics classroom, Simon also sees life lessons, not on the turf but amid the equations. It is about critical thinking, problem-solving, and having fun. He loves that his subject is tangible. 

Physics is something students can see and relate to, and they get to do all sorts of experiments — during the momentum unit, students will be “ramming cars into each other,” Simon said. Last fall they dropped objects from the stadium press box to learn about gravity. 

Simon is passionate about physics for many reasons, but most of all, because it is a black-and-white science that does not change based on how a person feels. Matter obeys the laws of physics no matter what a person wants it to do. Physics is not magic. It is consistent and dependable.

Simon began teaching physics right here at MHS in the 1990s (the year has yet to be disclosed). He knew after his first year that Middleton was the place he wanted to be. Put simply, it is because he loves it here.

He knew he wanted to be a teacher from a young age. In sixth grade, he remembers knowing that he wanted to coach and he wanted to teach, and despite twists and turns along the way, such as when he dabbled in engineering at college, Simon ultimately landed on what he always knew he wanted. 

He had been preparing to be a high school teacher since he was a student himself. 

“In high school, in the last page of my notebooks, I would make little comments of things that my teachers did that I liked,” he described. “I’d write it down. Like, I want to do that when I become a teacher. There were things that teachers did that I didn’t like, and I would write down: Don’t do this when you become a teacher.”

The notebooks and all their advice are still stashed away somewhere, but Simon does not ruminate on them much anymore. Maybe it’s because he does not have to.