Dec. 19, 1948 – July 10, 2023
Our mother was a gift to her family and the countless lives she touched with her warmth, compassion and energetic spirit. Generous to the end, she put others’ needs before her own.
Christine Lee Schott Simmons was born Dec. 19, 1948 in Burbank to adoring parents. Song leader for Burroughs High School, Chris graduated with the class of 1967. Though she had many suitors, her focus was attaining a degree from CSUN to be a teacher. During her last semester, she met our dad and her husband of 40 years. While pregnant, she earned her master’s degree at Pepperdine University. Mom actively showed up in our lives, was a devoted wife and celebrated kindergarten teacher at Mountain Avenue Elementary with a career that spanned 38 years.
Mom took very seriously her position to initiate young minds during their first year of education and set the bar for an excitement toward learning. Each month her classroom came to life with a new theme: students would walk-in and feel Under-the-Sea with sea creatures’ hand-painted on sheets; hospital themes had students learn terminology so they would not fear “doctor jargon;” during dinosaur theme students did a “dino dig” and, as anthropologists, would dig up, brush off and categorize bones that were donated by a butcher-parent. She taught students to like the color red so they would not be discouraged by red marks on papers; she raised money for computers for the school library, started “kinder-gardens” for students to plant and cultivate seeds, taught beautification (to keep their area on campus trash free) and taught recycling and conservation so well that parents commented their child reminded them to turn off the water while shaving.
One of the teaching tools she was most proud of was to incorporate the use of American Sign Language (ASL) to benefit both children and parents. In two weeks, no matter the child’s language background, every student learned to sign each letter of the alphabet and say the sound. It was a very tactile learning method for her non-English students who could feel the sound in their hand. Students quickly learned to sign rhyming words and patriotic songs. Signing proved to be a helpful disciplinary tool for students needing a friendly reminder of classroom and playground rules.
Mrs. Simmons humbly was awarded Teacher of the Year – twice! Once is an extraordinary feat. She received The Delmonte Award for exemplary teaching skills and had a wait list of parents wanting their child in her class. With her help, Mountain Avenue Elementary was nationally recognized as a Blue Ribbon School. Mom encouraged parents to volunteer in her classroom and had the parents so well trained they were disappointed teachers grades above were not as encouraging.
After retirement, Mom moved to Lake Havasu City to pour her time and talents into uplifting the community; she most notably started an annual desert cleanup. She enjoyed friends, a good Cadillac margarita, and eight years with a man who loved her unconditionally as she loved. During her last night on earth she said “Goodnight, sweetheart,” finished a show, snuggled in bed, and put her cold feet atop his to warm them. In the early morning, before sunlight on July 10, she let out a long sigh and her soul left atop a pink cloud.
Despite a heart that operated at 20% most her life, she gave her best each day as mother, wife, teacher, friend, partner, and humanitarian – even when she had very little energy to give.
The loss of Christine Simmons is great to Earth and humanity yet she lives on in the hearts she touched.