Abby Simpson Leadership Award

Seaman Middle School Student Wins Leadership Award for the State of Kansas
Posted on 02/20/2020
Abby Simpson, a student at Seaman Middle School, has been named as the 2020 Billy Michal Student Leadership Award recipient for the state of Kansas by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. Abby will receive the award at the Museum’s American Spirit Awards celebration in June.

The Billy Michal Student Leadership Award is given annually to one student from each state and the District of Columbia who demonstrates the American Spirit in his or her community. Through this award the Museum promotes the values of leadership, teamwork, tolerance, creativity, and perseverance to students nationwide and honors those who exemplify them.

Abby began learning American Sign Language (ASL) while in elementary school. Through learning ASL and her research about its history, Abby became aware of the importance of sign language and the role sign language can play in teaching acceptance, tolerance, and understanding diversity. As a seventh grader, she successfully petitioned school administrators to create an American Sign Language elective class. Abby teamed up with another student who knows ASL to teach the entirety of the elective course, with faculty supervision. Over 150 students have had the opportunity to learn ASL because of Abby’s work in creating and teaching this class.

Outside of school, Abby is active in the ASL community. She has served as an interpreter for members of her church who are deaf or hard of hearing and has interpreted at various summer camps. She continues to be involved with numerous groups in the Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City area, teaching and promoting ASL.

“Abby Simpson is a student leader who has broken barriers in her community and who exemplifies the ideals of the Billy Michal Student Leadership Award,” said teacher Kyle Johnson. “Abby is an exceptional student and an exceptional leader. Her work to promote tolerance through the teaching of American Sign Language at Seaman Middle School and the north Topeka community is the quintessence of the American spirit.”