Community leaders, educators and the public turned out Friday morning to break ground for Waxahachie ISD’s newest campus, Max H. Simpson Elementary School. The school honors Simpson’s service as an educator, assistant superintendent and school board trustee.
Simpson’s grandson Max Mills told the crowd gathered along the street that this is a “tremendous honor.”
“There is a quote that my Papa said to me a few years ago when he was the subject of my thesis, which is the desegregation of Waxahachie ISD, of which he was a pivotal player. He said, ‘You don’t find history, history finds you.’ Lo and behold, Papa, history has found you,” Max Mills said. “It has manifested in a school and I cannot think of anyone more deserving than you for such an honor for all the work you have done as an amazing grandfather, mentor and person that I want to be and emulate in all aspects.”
Simpson’s daughter, Megan Mills, shared how she and her sister Chrisanna Melick’s first students were made up of stuffed animals, dolls and children from the neighborhood.
“Teaching was a natural part of our DNA,” Megan Mills said. “As we grew older and became real teachers, our paths migrated back to Waxahachie.
“We were constantly approached by teachers who would say we love your dad,” Megan Mills said. “We are truly honored by this legacy that WISD has gifted our family. You couldn’t have chosen a more dedicated, funny and honest person than our dad. Generations of children will be part of the legacy of Simpson Elementary and we are greatly honored by your selection. We love you, Dad.”
Chrisanna Melick shared her sister’s feelings about their father and his impact on the community.
“We never realized the magnitude of the impact of our father in so many people’s lives until we were in the trenches with them,” Melicks said. “He has a photographic memory for names and events that is unmatched from anyone that we have met.
“He believes in public school with every fiber of his being and has dedicated his life to education,” she said. “He believes that every child can learn if given the proper tools and a lot of love. They don’t make them like Dad anymore.”
WISD board member Dr. Joe Langley, who served with Simpson during the latter’s tenure on the board, told the audience that Simpson’s legacy will continue to grow with each child who walks through the doors of the new school.
“In the summer of 2020, the lettering ‘Max Simpson Elementary’ will be attached above the doorways of that building,” Langley said. “Those letters will recognize a lifelong contribution of Max to the education of children. … Having your name attached to a school in recognition of your life’s body of work is a great honor.
“Not long after those letters are put above those doorways, hundreds of children will enter those hallways,” Langley said. “That scene will be repeated each day for decades. Their minds are going to be open to ideas and knowledge to prepare them to be successful in life. Their lives are going to forever be transformed because of education. I believe that is what excited Max. He has impacted children’s lives for over 50 years. But, because of this building, he is going to impact them many, many more.”
Simpson said his family is “so honored by the district decision and have been in orbit” since the announcement was made. He shared his thoughts on how the biggest challenge facing the district at this time is in handling and managing its growth because of the time and energy involved.
“What you have to be careful of is that you don’t expend all of your energy in the building of the school. It’s beautiful and wonderful but it is only mortar and brick,” he said. “The important thing that you have to keep up is the programs that you put into that school for kids. That is the most important thing.
“I can’t wait for the school to be built because I am a big fan of mortar and brick but I am a bigger fan of what takes place in that building,” Simpson said. “If I am still around – and I plan to be that first day Simpson Elementary opens – I am going to be at the door greeting those kids.”