Having accrued more than 35 years of experience as a reading and language arts elementary teacher, Frances “Fran” Bell Simms retired from her position at the Arlington Public Schools in Virginia in 1999. Prior to becoming a certified teacher, she served as a reading clinician for Mills Center Inc., in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ms. Simms likewise maintained activity as a playroom attendant in the Department of Neurology at the Children’s Hospital in Boston.
Among the projects Ms. Simms developed during her teaching career, she devised a formatting and editing of a program titled “The DaVinci Project,” which focused on improving and connecting academic concepts to diverse populations within elementary schools. This was developed by local staff and is changing and growing since 1990. Ms. Simms developed a layout for standard format and using behavior-vested language. She also devoted time as a consultant and curriculum development advisory board member for the Arlington Public Schools, an advisory board member for the Reading is Fundamental Program in Northern Virginia, a guest reading instructor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, a chairperson of the Self-Study Elementary School in Arlington and a guest lecturer at Marymount University. She remains a consultant instructor for Arlington Adult Education, and a lecturer and presenter in her field.
An instrumental figure in her community and elsewhere, Ms. Simms often contributed her teaching expertise to the Henderson Hall Marine Corps, a volunteer program in Arlington. An introduction to full day kindergarten for parents began Better Beginnings in Arlington. Outside of education, she has been active in her church, Cherrydale United Methodist, for the past 40 years. She has been a lay leader, choir member and Stephen minister, vacation Bible school arts/crafts teacher, organizer of talent shows and Mary Magdalene in performance. Additionally, Ms. Simms was with the Speaker’s Bureau for Hospice, speaker with Washington House Hospital and usher at the Kennedy Center.
Ms. Simms received a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of North Carolina in 1958, followed by a Master of Education at the University of Florida in 1962. She shortly thereafter completed postgraduate coursework at Boston University and the University of Virginia, and completed various courses at Queen’s College in the United Kingdom. An amateur artist, Ms. Simms’ has been featured in various exhibitions, including at the Lee Heights Gallery, the Art League of Alexandria and the Torpedo Factory. She also taught watercolor painting for adult education from 2000 to 2011.
Aligned with several industry-related organizations throughout her career, Ms. Simms is a member of the American Association of University Women, the Virginia State Reading Association conference committee, the Arlington Education Association, where she was a contributing editor for its newsletter, the Retired Arlington Teachers Association and the Greater Washington Reading Council, where she was named as the Teacher of the Year for 1995. She has also been a member of several professional arts related organizations as well, including the Art League of Alexandria and Falls Church Arts, and was a founding member of Arlington Artists Alliance. Recognized for her expertise, Ms. Simms was the recipient of a Literacy Award and a Margaret McNamara Award from the Reading is Fundamental of Northern Virginia. A celebrated Marquis listee, she has been included in numerous editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, and Who’s Who in the World.