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Super Mom also is OTC's GOAL student

Cindy Simms balances a huisband and eight kids with a full-time job and going to school

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Super Mom also is OTC's GOAL student

Cindy Simms, left, works with son Ty, 6, on his reading while his brother Cole, 10, cheers him on and other siblings Noah, 14, Hannah, 17, and Lily, 12, complete their schoolwork on the sofa in the background. Simms, mother of eight, respiratory therapist, equestrian enthusiast, and 4-H leader won the College Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) as a student in the computer networking program at Ogeechee Technical College.


  Cindy Simms is Super Mom.
      She has eight kids, works full time as a respiratory therapist at East Georgia Regional Medical Center, is active in 4-H, a member of an equestrian drill team and attends Ogeechee Technical College.
      In spite of her full life, Simms excels academically, which is likely one of the reasons OTC recently named her as the school's recipient of the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership.
      The award amazed her, she said.
      Sitting in an office at OTC, Simms was willing to talk about the excitement of winning the award, but like most moms, wanted to talk more about her family.
      It's a unique situation at the Simms' home, but their method works, and enables Simms to be a full-time mother who participates in the same activities her kids do; a full-time wife, full time professional and full-time student.
      Doing all of that takes extreme leadership skills, and those skills are recognized in that OTC chose Simms to represent the college in the GOAL program - a statewide program of the Technical College System of Georgia which honors academic excellence and leadership.
      Simms' instructor, Terry Hand, nominated her, claiming Simms' "motivation and determination to succeed" were reasons for her choice.
      "In my opinion she is the reason why the technical college system was established. She is a mother working full-time in a profession for which she wants advanced training to help her acquire the skills necessary to advance her employment opportunities," Hand said. "The technical college system has offered her the flexibility and hands-on training she needs."
      "I was honored when I was nominated, and now I am especially honored to have been selected as the college's GOAL winner," Simms said.
      "We are very proud of Cindy and her accomplishment in winning this year's GOAL award," said OTC President Dawn Cartee.
      Simms will advance to regional competition March 24 in Fitzgerald, Ga., where she will compete against 10 other award recipients. The state competition is in May in Atlanta, and should she win that level - Simms could be driving a new Chevrolet.


Simms family - unique and unusual
      Simms met her husband, Statesboro Police Cpl. Eric Simms, when they were both in high school. They didn't marry until after college graduation. "I graduated one Saturday and got married the next," she said.
      Then, the kids began coming. Sara, now 22, is a senior chemistry major at Georgia Southern University. Aaron, 19, works full time and will attend OTC this spring. Hannah, 17, plans to go to school to become a farrier - the family is big into horses and Hannah loves anything to do with them, Simms said.
      Samuel is 15, Noah is 14, and they both "love hunting and fishing."
      They also take turns living with their grandmother, alternating with sitters.
      Twelve-year-old Lily, whom Simms said is the "mother hen of the bunch," helps keep tabs on Cole, 10, who "is all boy," and Ty, 6, is "the baby." All of the Simms kids still in grade school attend classes at home - students of Georgia Cyber Academy, a public school of online classes using webcams, she said.
      Having the kids homeschooled, then taking the online public school course, really helps because time isn't spent getting the gaggle of students ready for school each morning.
      Since Eric works evenings, he is home with the children, who get up later than they would if they attended a "brick and mortar" school, Simms said. So, when she gets up each morning, she has a few hours alone for homework and other activities.
      That's good, since having so many children "is organized chaos," she said.
      But having that many children helps when each is assigned to specific chores, and the older ones help the younger ones with schoolwork.
      Most of the family is involved with 4-H and compete in the club's drill team. The family has seven horses, as well as a number of dogs and cats. Hannah, Noah, Lily, Cole and Simms all compete on the drill team; Ty is just beginning to ride and Sam prefers trail riding, she said.
      How does she do it all?
      "I have a lot of support from Eric, picking up the slack at home," she said. "Without that, it really wouldn't happen. My kids taking a big role helps, and my boss works around my schedule. Without all three factors, it really wouldn't be possible" for her to juggle work, school and being Mom to eight children.
      Even so, what Cindy Simms does each day is impressive at the least. Respiratory therapist, equestrian competitor, mom, wife, and a student who excels academically - her peers, her family and those at OTC feel Simms is very deserving of the GOAL award.
      Other finalists for the Ogeechee Technical College GOAL competition were Leah Doyle, Philip Eyrich, Mary Screws and Charles Strickland.

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