Episode #112: Spread the Kindness Ripple through Books with Rich Simpson
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.
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 and two children 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)
What it was like for you 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 a…