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1962 Trip to Puerto Rico

A Teacher's Journey

The author unearthed a remarkably eventful soul - Katzen (originally Katzenellenbogen) was born in Siberia in 1911, the daughter of a respected medical doctor and virtuosic musician.”
— Kirkus reviews

Contact: Ira Sumner Simmonds
(646) 554-5551

From Siberia to St. Kitts: A Teacher’s Journey
By Ira Sumner Simmonds

Former student chronicles the life and legacy of one extraordinary woman

Imagine a teacher devoted enough to personally secure funding for school supplies from an independent financier. Author Ira Sumner Simmonds documents the life of such a person in his new biography, "From Siberia to St. Kitts: A Teacher’s Journey". Zenaida Katzen, who met Simmonds while teaching him French on the island of St. Kitts in the 1960s, led a life worth reading about for a lot of reasons. A woman of the world, she had already lived in Siberia, China, France and Chile when she arrived on St. Kitts in 1961 and began to apply what she had learned to advance the lives of teenaged students on the island. She took a unique and comprehensive approach to teaching, often organizing activities and programs for her students outside the classroom.
Simmonds, a 25-year veteran of the New York City public school system, cites Katzen as his inspiration to become an educator. He shares, “I felt compelled to learn all I could about this extraordinary woman, putting five years of painstaking research into the biography.” The story includes photos of Katzen and her friends, family, students, and the places she traveled. One chapter features letters between Katzen and her benefactor, offering a unique perspective into how she carefully managed the financial, educational and extracurricular needs of her students.
Simmonds’ research for From Siberia to St. Kitts took him around the globe, tracking Katzen’s influence through Chile, Hong Kong, Shanghai, St. Kitts and France. Zenaida “Zina” Katzen was more than a language teacher, she was an educator who believed in providing students with an experience while they were learning. From Siberia to St. Kitts paints a beautiful picture of a brilliant, passionate educator who devoted her life to helping others learn.
From Siberia to St. Kitts has been hailed as an “unconventional but affecting biography” by Kirkus Reviews.

Ira Sumner Simmonds received a BA in French from St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY and M.A. and M.Ed. degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY. Before becoming a teacher, he spent 10 years working as a House Manager at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He worked in New York City public schools for 25 years as a teacher, assistant principal and acting principal. He currently works as an educational consultant in the NYC Metropolitan area. His hobbies include the theater, traveling, biking, birding, writing short stories and family genealogy.

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From Siberia to St. Kitts is available for purchase in paperback on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble bookstores.


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