The Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award Committee of NJSTA owes its existence to the generosity and foresight of its namesake. Mait Simmons was born and educated in Rhode Island. Born around the turn of the century, he lived in Newport and attended the University of Rhode Island graduating in 1925.
A science teacher for many years in the Irvington, New Jersey school system, Mait rose through the ranks to the position of department chairman. He distinguished himself by spearheading the evolution of science projects and competitions or science fairs. He was a published teacher with his most notable contribution being a book entitled “The Young Scientist: Activities for Junior High School Students” published by Exposition Press, Library of Congress No. 51002331. Still available from used book stores, the book has 164 pages and offers problems and exercises to develop independent thinking in science students. Published in 1951, it was preceded and followed by several articles in educational journals of the period.
Mait married Antoinette (Toni), a 1928 graduate of URI’s home economics program. Toni later became a librarian, which played a major role in her life up through the early 1990s. Both Mait and Toni retired to Vero Beach, Florida in 1965, from Springfield, NJ, where they remained active, Mait subbing in local elementary schools and Toni volunteering at the local library. In the mid 70s, Mait set up his will in consultation with NJSTA, NSTA, URI, Montclair State College, local churches, etc., leaving the remains of his estate after caring for Toni until her death to the fore mentioned organizations. Mait died in the early 90s with Toni passing in February 2004, at age 97. The will was then applied according to Mait’s wishes.
The money that he left to the various educational organizations and schools was designated to establish teacher training initiatives in science education, such as NSTA’s Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award for New Teachers of Science.
The NJSTA Maitland P. Simmons Memorial Award Committee was formed to honor his wishes. Each year the Committee establishes teacher training activities in his memory, utilizing the proceeds of investments so the bequest will be an ongoing program.