Many students find Kay Sims to be one of the most interesting professors at Yuba College. Lately, Sims is doing something to make herself even more interesting, if that’s possible. Sims sent an application along with a funny tape of one day in her life to the producers of “The Biggest Loser,” a reality-based television show on NBC. She hopes to be considered as a contestant on the weight loss program.
Sims teaches nutrition, along with early childhood education and parenting, and says the producers of the show will pick her “if they want a college professor, in her late fifties, who teaches nutrition and doesn’t take her own advice.” She says that her downfall to losing weight is portable sweets like cookies and brownies, and she enjoys gourmet food and deserts.
Sims is one of the two professors who have the most seniority at Yuba College, having been employed by the district since 1970. Her teaching techniques may seem odd to some, but there is a method to all the madness, and with the crazy life she has led, there is no wonder why she may seem a bit quirky.
“I was a hippy when I was younger,” said Sims. When she first applied to work at Yuba she had long hair that she describes as “hippy hair,” and in those days an applicant could not get hired with hair like that, so she wore a wig to her interview.
When the staff saw her after she was hired without her wig on, they thought that her long hair was the wig. She does not have long hair anymore, but students can still see some hippy remnants in how she dresses and her unusual teaching techniques.
At the beginning of every semester Sims hands out little pieces of paper to all her students, each with squares with the meeting dates of the class in them. At the beginning of every class she uses a hole punch to punch out the date on the card, but students only get a punch if they are early or on time. Her students may get a grade at the end of the semester that reflects the number of punches their cards received. Also, if they do not miss more than one day of class, they don’t have to take the final.
Sims manages her classes how she would want a class to be if she were a student. Because she does not like to grade papers, Sims grades most of the homework in class, and doesn’t assign many papers. She doesn’t like to take tests herself, so she has little quizzes in class as an alternative to big cumulative tests. Her classes include movies, guest speakers, and group discussions because she doesn’t think that students learn as much from lectures.
Her enthusiasm for teaching started young. In fourth grade she decided to start saving for college. Though she once considered being an optometrist, her real passion is in teaching. When asked what she likes to do, she responded, “I truly love to teach.”
Teaching is not the only thing she loves to do. Her hobbies also include quilting, traveling, playing guitar and taking care of her five cats. Sims has traveled a lot, but her “ultimate road trip” was the 13,500 mile trip around the US and Canada that she took with a friend, for only $700. She takes Dr. Mathews guitar class and says that she really enjoys it. She also has played cello, saxophone and bassoon. “I know the least about guitar musically, but it’s my favorite,” said Sims.
When she was younger Sims used to ski and has even gone dog sledding with her daughters, Heather and Amber. She also used to enjoy mountain biking. She used to do construction work, like roofing, plumbing, painting and some electrical work. She was a power lifter and apparently was a very good one. She also used to be a deacon and an elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Marysville.
Being a full time instructor at Yuba College and having many hobbies is not enough for Sims, so she also volunteers at many organizations in the community. Sims is on the board of directors for Consumer Credit Counseling Services, a non-profit organization that helps people manage their finances and get their feet back under them financially.
She is also on the board of directors for Friday Night Live, an organization that puts on drug free events for the youth of our community, including dances on Friday nights for junior high students. She also teaches inmates at Leo Chesney Center, a prison in Live Oak, so they can get the education they will need to be able to be functioning members of society when they are released.
Sims is willing to help whoever needs her help. She gets tutoring herself for guitar, so she understands. She treats all her students with respect, even the students at the Leo Chesney Center.
The students who take her classes like her and respect her. When her students see her face light up when she sees them and talk to her about her life, they can’t help but wish they could spend more time getting to know her.