By GABRIELLA CRUZ-MARTÍNEZ
Barbara Simon, who founded the preschool at Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, 5235 S. Cornell Ave., in the early ‘80s, has announced plans to retire from her teaching role at Akiba this summer, according to a statement issued by the school. Simon has been a preschool educator in the Hyde Park community for over 30 years.
The community at Akiba-Schechter is planning to honor Simon’s 35 years of dedication as a preschool teacher during their Run & Brunch fundraising event on Sunday, June 24 at 10 a.m.
The activity, open to the Hyde Park community, includes a 5K run at 9 a.m. at Harold Washington Playlot Park, 5200 S. Hyde Park Ave., followed by a brunch at 10 a.m. at the Congregation Rodfei Zedek, 5200 S. Hyde Park Ave., generously sponsored by the Simon family.
The Detroit native began teaching preschool at the Hyde Park Union Church when her husband’s career as an orthopedic surgeon brought them to the University of Chicago. Parents involved at Akiba-Schechter and Rodfei Zedek, which was housed in the same building at the time, asked whether she’d be willing to start a preschool there.
“We began with 12 kids and two teachers,” Simon said in a written statement. While the preschool has grown a lot, it hasn’t changed much according to Simon. “We always had good people, and the Hyde Park families are really amazing and central to the preschool.”
According to Simon’s colleagues, she loves running into former students’ families around Hyde Park, and she’s thrilled that, in some cases, she’s been privileged to teach the children of former Purple Room kids as well as her own grandchildren. The Purple Room was Simon’s first classroom, and is now known as the preschooler’s room.
Pricing for the Run & Brunch is $100 for adults 18 and up and $18 for children ages 7-17. The event is free for children 6 and under.
Pricing for the run only is $35 for adults 18 and up and $10 for children ages 7-17. The event is free for children 6 and under. Prices will increase after June 10, with proceeds going to the Akiba-Schechter Annual Campaign.