Marlan Simpson, High School Teacher

Episode #27

April 12, 2021

by Jonathan Stoll

Marlan’s cut from the same cloth as Mr. Tommie LIndsey, who we spoke to on episode #7.  And as it turns out Marlan cuts cloth, too.  Marlan is a fashion designer.  He recently opened up the MSJX suit parlor in Union City where clients can come get custom made suits and other attire. 

Marlan, like my hero, Mr. Lindsey, is an educator, too.  Mr. Lindsey began his career teaching at a continuation high school in Union City, CA.  Marlan works at a continuation high school in neighboring Hayward, CA.  Marlan’s approach to education is very much modeled after our high school forensics coach, Mr. Lindsey.  Both Marlan and Lindsey advocate(d) for students at all costs.  They challenge(d) students.  Lindsey did it for Marlan.  Marlan’s paying it forward.

Marlan was a teacher.  Then he became a principal.  He then returned to teaching.  Teaching afforded him more time to invest in his family and fashion business.

Other connections to past episodes include Darius Northern (episode #1). Darius is the founder of the People of Colour clothing brand.  Maran Simpson’s MSJX clothing brand and Darius’ POC clothing brand share the same tagline, “It’s more than a brand, it’s an experience.” 

And during our conversation with Marlan, he refers to Dr. Jeff Duncan Andrade (episode #12) and “audacious hope.”  “If a student comes in your classroom hungry and you're eating lunch in front of that student,” Marlan said, “if you're not willing to share your food with them, you’ve lost them because you're not giving them any hope.  And if you’re not giving them any hope, it doesn't matter what you teach.”

Whether serving as a principal or a teacherMarlan shares, “My message never changed. And my story never changes. My approach just changed.”  

Marlan suggested that “educators should practice what they teach.”  Maybe they should teach what they practice?  I’m not sure what that means, but if we’re going to practice what we preach, it seems that practicing what we teach would also be important.  Why isn’t that as popular of a saying?

I appreciated Colin and Marlan, two educators, exchanging reflections on the significance of silence in the classroom.  I wonder if most teachers fear the awkwardness of silence.  Or perhaps others, too, like Marlan might characterize the silence as “music with no words.”  Colin and Marlan allow the silence to soak in, the patience to allow the mind to marinate in contemplation, discernment, and making sense of the lesson at hand.  The Music of Silence.  “Sometimes you have to be quiet, so people can just absorb the energy and the vibe.”  To let the rhythms and harmonies of the music take over your body.  To listen.  Through discernment Quakers connect with God.  In that silence in the classroom somIt’s never good enough.  It’s inequitable.  Poor people and people of color receive a lesser quality of it.

IMAN Is based on the spiritual traditions of IMAN.the practice ething tells me something spiritual is occuring.  Perhaps learning in a sense is spiritual.  The processing that occurs in the silence.  Quakers discern queries.  The student discerns questions.  There’s not much different between a query and a question.  In both the Quaker meeting and Marlan’s classroom, in silence, and through discernment, the answers are found within.

social media image
social media
social media image

Soul Force Ones ft. Push Collective