University employee beats the odds

There is no doubt that faculty play a huge role at any school, especially at Grambling State University. 

Florence I. Simon has been at Grambling for 20 years and teaches all of the early childhood education classes.   

Florence Simon

Florence Simon

Although Simon was reared in Natchitoches; she is no stranger to Grambling. She has three brothers who were all reared in Grambling, so she considers it her second home.

In 1971 Simon graduated from GSU with a bachelor’s degree in social work and was a second generation graduate. Simon has two daughters who both graduated from Grambling and she hopes for her grandchildren to do the same.

“Grambling is my institution and I love it because it gives so much to our race” said Simon.

Things were different during the time Simon attended Grambling. Tuition for room and board was only $350 per semester and it was mandatory for every student to attend football games.

Simon currently lives in Grambling and has many memories here.

Her elder brother is Edward Roosevelt Jones, the current mayor of the city of Grambling. The Subway fast food restaurant on campus was built and owned by Simon’s parents. When in their possession, it was known as “Jones Brothers”, which was a grocery store, restaurant and a club all in one. However, after Simon’s parents passed away, “Jones Brothers” was sold. 

Alfred Rayfroid Blunt was Simon’s grandfather who owned a printing company that printed everything in the state of Louisiana.

Simon is a strong Black woman because she remains positive and in good spirits, despite going through some heartache.

A decade ago, Simon found her husband of thirty five years, dead at their home in Natchitoches.

He suffered a fatal heart attack. “It was devastating and hard, but I had to be strong for my family.” 

Simon is also a breast cancer survivor; she discovered a spot after going for a checkup a couple of years ago. Thankfully, she is now cancer free after going through radiation.

 “When I found out I was fine because I knew I would be okay” said Simon.

Not only is she a teacher, but Simon is also a mother figure, who many students adore and look up to. 

“She is a very caring, generous person and a survivor with a big heart” said Kaylin Footman, an elementary major from Los Angeles. “She is my mother on campus.”

A student that Simon taught over 15 years ago became homeless and was desperate for advice and somewhere to stay. That student is now living with Simon here in Grambling and is being treated like her own child. 

“I want the kids to have a good and prosperous life, that’s why I do what I do” said Simon.

Being a teacher, it is important to be able to relate and communication effectively with students, which is why Simon is always willing to learn new things that will benefit both her and her students in the classroom. 

“She goes beyond 8 to 5, always seeking more knowledge and technology” said Dr. Elaine Foster, an associate professor in the department of curriculum and instruction. “As a professional she is constantly alternating so that she’ll be better prepared to educate her students, so that they can one day become early childhood educators.” 

Simon loves her students and Grambling dearly. 

“The students are what keep you grounded and without them I would be the little old lady that sits on the porch,” Simon said.