Virginia Gill Simmons, PhD | Teacher of English, Teacher Trainer | School ELC, Khabarovsk, Russia

An accomplished educator, administrator, and trainer, Virginia Gill Simmons, PhD has dedicated more than five decades to teaching and guiding students of varying ages worldwide—wielding specific expertise in helping international students learn English and those with special needs, as well as training fellow teachers in preparation for their careers. With a current objective to live in and teach the English language in non-English speaking countries, she has served as a teacher and teacher trainer at School ELC in Khabarovsk, Russia since 2022; an English Language Specialist for the U.S. Department of State since 2018—a position in which she has trained on the inclusion of the disabled in four major cities throughout Russia; and a specialist for English language and special needs at Heritage International School, a private school in Chisinau, Moldova, since 2017. She previously excelled as an English language teacher and teacher trainer at the National University of Battambang in Cambodia from 2015 to 2022 and a teacher of English and a teacher trainer at Tisb University in Russia, where she taught the language to community groups, blind students, professors, and other students at the university throughout 2014. In the United States, she has been an adjunct professor at Marshall University, Coastal Carolina University, Frances Marion University, and the College of Charleston.

For 11 years, Dr. Simmons demonstrated her extraordinary leadership at the Horry County School system in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She served as coordinator of multicultural affairs and the gifted and talented from 1999 to 2006, director of its innovative high school, the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology, from 2003 to 2005, and director of adult education there from 2007 to 2014. From 1988 to 1999, she found success within the West Virginia Department of Education, through which she was active as the coordinator of the gifted and talented, director of governor’s schools, and dean of assessment and training. She began her impactful teaching career in the Kanawha County School system in West Virginia, in 1964 and spent 24 years there, as an elementary teacher, a coordinator in special education, and a coordinator of community education. Amid her responsibilities in Kanawha County, she taught first grade and special education in the Pocahontas County Schools for six months, between 1967 and 1968.

Outside of her role as an educator, Dr. Simmons has also been active as a broker for Intracoastal Realty in Leland, North Carolina since 2016. Additionally, she is the founder and president of the Russia and West Virginia Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization that has strived since 1994 to promote alliances that focus on a global commitment to a higher quality of life, particularly regarding education, culture, business, and community. She has long been affiliated with numerous prestigious groups, such as the TESOL International Association, Council for Exceptional Children, National Association for Gifted Children, North Carolina Real Estate Association, and CamTESOL Conference Series. Over the course of her outstanding professional journey, she has been most proud of the work she’s done in Ecuador, where she started a support team, as many countries in South American countries don’t know about the industry. Looking toward the future, she hopes to work closely with immigrants to help them grasp the English language, as well as teach in Africa.

Attributing her success to the support of her family, being open to new experiences, and having a supportive husband, Dr. Simmons has also been motivated by her own robust education; she obtained a Bachelor of Science in elementary education, English, and social studies from West Virginia College in 1964, a Master of Science in special education from Marshall University in 1968, and a Doctor of Philosophy in special education, with an emphasis in gifted education, from Kent State University in 1985.

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