A billionaire math genius uses his own money to give hundreds of teachers a $15,000-a-year raise.

Jim Simons might be the richest man you've never heard of.

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.


Dubbed the world's smartest billionaire by the Financial Times, Simons made obscene amounts of money, in large part, by being better at math than pretty much everyone else.

Photo by Gert-Martin Greuel/Oberwolfach Photo Collection.

In the early 1980s, Simons started a hedge fund. But instead of hiring the usual finance experts...

Pictured here: Business. Photo via iStock.

...he decided to work with mathematicians and scientists to build algorithms to model the behavior of markets to determine the best investment strategy.

Pictured here: Science. Photo via iStock.

His plan totally worked.

As of September 2015, Simons was the 76th wealthiest person in the world, and his former company was worth over $22 billion.

Searching stock photo sites for "raining money" yields a surprising amount of results. Photo via iStock.

So yeah, dude knows a thing or two about the importance of math and science.

But even more importantly, dude knows a thing or two about the importance of people who teach math and science.

Since 2003, Simons has been using a portion of his vast fortune to do something unusual: increase the salaries of New York City math and science teachers the tune of $15,000/year. Each.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

His organization, Math for America, currently pays around 1000 standout New York City public school STEM teachers the annual stipend. Just because they're awesome.

"Instead of beating up the bad teachers, which has created morale problems all through the educational community, in particular in math and science, we focus on celebrating the good ones," Simons said in a recent TED interview.

Teachers in New York City are invited to apply annually for the fellowship.

The organization doesn't look at test scores. Instead, it tries to find educators who have strong backgrounds in their content area, excellent teaching skills, and empathy for students. Those admitted receive the $15,000 stipend each year for four years and are invited to re-apply at the end of the fellowship.

Publicly dissing teachers has become kind of fashionable, especially in politics.

Calls to weed out bad-apple teachers, break up teachers unions, and determine pay based on test outcomes have grown loud in recent years. Between 2000 and 2013, the average teacher salary actually declined, when adjusted for inflation.

"It's hard right now to be really excited to be a teacher nationally," Megan Roberts, executive director of Math for America, told Upworthy. "We really think that, especially in STEM, our role is that we really want to value excellence in teaching and we want to do everything we can to keep teachers in the classroom."

Simons and his staff know that teaching is a important, complicated, and difficult profession — and that part of attracting the best people is making them feel valued.

Photo by Martin Bureau/Getty Images.

That means not only paying them more, but giving them opportunities for continued skill development and a strong professional network.

"I hear people say all the time, 'Oh, he's just a teacher.' Or, 'I'm teaching now, until I do something else,'" Roberts said. "So nationally, the conversation across the country has always been that it's either a field where people go to if they can't do something else, or it's something they do as a pathway to something else."

"Teaching is enough. It's more than enough."

Math for America hopes that Simons' generosity can serve as a national example.

Despite having extensive resources, one man can only do so much. In order to improve the state of America's classrooms, Math for America works to make changing the conversation around teaching a priority nationwide.

"A huge number of our teachers say that they only stay in the classroom because of Math for America," Roberts said.

In the meantime, cheers to Jim Simons for demonstrating what respect for teachers, and the hard work they do, looks like.

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.

"When someone like Jim Simons puts his energy behind a really important initiative on education, it's just profound," Roberts said.

Somewhere in New York City, a few thousand public school teenagers are rolling their eyes.

But secretly, I'm sure they couldn't agree more.

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This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

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All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

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The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

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This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

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