OMAHA (Neb. (KMTV) — Every morning Zach Simon stands in front of Northwest High School in Omaha, Nebraska, holding a sign.
“Everything was an opportunity to call for action. Simon, Northwest High’s student dean, said that the smiles and good feelings were not enough. He challenged students to make a difference by asking them how they could get others to act.
Simon started the project to fulfill an assignment for a class while he’s completing another master’s degree. His instructors challenged him, and they came up with a “pay it forward” activity. After reading John Gordon’s book, he says his leadership inspired him and motivated him to spread positivity.
“He talks about everyone, and leaders had a signature leadership trait or gesture and I wanted to help the kids and share positivity. Simon said that he talks about having a positive mindset. I was intrigued by his ideas and wondered how I could get my students to adopt a positive mindset.
He claims that he noticed a response from the children almost immediately. He asked them to thank him on the first day. It was a simple gesture that made a huge difference.
Simon said, “I noticed that while a few of them thanked my for their service and it started a conversation but some of them turned to the bus driver and thanked him before getting off the bus. I also saw bus drivers giving me thumbs up through their windows and smiling behind their masks.
Kimberly Jackson, Northwest High director, says Simon’s challenge sets an example for others every day. She said it has not only given hope to students but also staff. She also said that leaders such as Simon are crucial for Northwest.
“It’s an important time to make sure the day starts right. We welcome students from many different backgrounds and want to ensure that they have a smooth transition. Jackson stated that Mr. Simon’s Project Up Front provides a great guideline on how to begin the day and how to greet people in the right way.
Simon believes he will continue to eat his plate even after class ends.