OMAHA (Neb. (KMTV) — Every morning Zach Simon stands outside Northwest High School in Omaha, Nebraska, with a sign.
“There was a call for action with every thing. It wasn’t just a smile or feel good but you were challenged to go on to the next person to do something, how can we get them to take action,” said Simon, dean of students at Northwest High.
Simon started the project to fulfill an assignment for a class while he was completing his second master’s degree. Instructors challenged Simon and they suggested a “pay it forward” activity. He claims that he was inspired by John Gordon’s book to help others.
“He talks about everybody, and leaders had a unique leadership trait or gesture. I wanted the opportunity to help the children and spread positivity. He talks about positive mindset as a choice and I was reflecting and thought, ‘How can I get my students to buy into positive mindset and how much better when it’s early in the morning,'” Simon said.
He claims that he received a response almost immediately from the children. He challenged them to say thank you on their first day. This simple gesture was a big help.
Simon commented that although some people thanked me for my help, others turned to the bus driver and thanked me before they got off. Simon noted that I could see bus drivers giving me thumbs-ups through the windows and smiling behind their masks.
Kimberly Jackson, principal of Northwest High School, says Simon’s challenge set an example for her every day. It sparked light in both students and staff, she says. She says that having Simon as a leader is crucial to Northwest.
“It’s an important time to make sure the day is started. Students are coming to us from all different environments and we want to make sure we provide stability and consistency to ensure they know what to expect when walking through our doors, so having something like Mr. Simon’s project in front is just a great road map for some of them as to how we start our day how we greet people the right way,” Jackson said.
Simon believes he will continue to sign even after the class ends.