Mandy Simpson is busy…very, very busy. “People tell me ‘you must have a lot of spare time—you don’t have kids.’ I tell them: just shadow me for a day. You’ll see how much spare time I have.”
In addition to teaching algebra and geometry to 177 high school students at the Columbia High in Nampa, taking classes two nights a week toward her Math Consulting Teacher Endorsement, and her six-days-a-week 5:30 AM workouts, Simpson serves as the new president of the Nampa Education Association where she’s been the voice of teachers after the news broke that the Nampa school budget is a mind-boggling $4.5 million in the red.
Unlike the federal government, local governments can’t run budget deficits. They must deal with budget shortfalls as they come along, meaning the problems associated with this year’s budget gap must be addressed this year. How is this affecting her work as EA president? “The Nampa EA is working to be a part of the solution here in Nampa,” says Simpson. “We know that our educators had nothing to do with this shortfall but we are all paying the price for the problem. We are trying to be as supportive as possible to all our educators, classified and certified, to help each other get through this massive mess.”
Simpson and the members of the Nampa EA are collaborating with the district to survey all employees on how they’re coping with the shortfall. Still, kids are her priority. “We are trying to work with administrators and staff to ensure the safety and education of all 15,000+ students in Nampa. It has been tough, all staff have been given a lot more than was expected on their plates.”
If we all get 15 minutes of fame, Simpson’s is working overtime. In September, Simpson was featured in a story about the propositions in the Idaho Statesman and in a piece in the New York Times called “What Do Teachers Deserve? In Idaho, Referendum May Have Answer.”
Simpson, not just a spokesperson against the referenda, but has somehow found time to volunteer for Vote No campaign phone banks. What does she do in her free time? “Time for fun is very limited, but I am someone that is going to have fun no matter what I am doing,” says Simpson. “I get to laugh and have fun every school day with my students. And I do value that time, because I don’t have to think about a $4.5 million shortfall when I am teaching.”