MSA director to resignMath and Science Academy to resignat the end of the school year.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
For the past 13 years a familiar face has been seen walking the halls of Math and Science Academy – Paul Simone. But school will be out for the current school director, and one-time social studies teacher, at the end of this year.
Simone notified the school’s Board of Directors last month that he has decided not to seek a contract extension. The Board of Directors approved Simone’s resignation during its March 22 meeting.
“It’s time for me to move on and continue on,” Simone said. “It’s just a matter of the world being a place of continual change.”
Simone’s resignation will be effective July 30.
In it for the kids
Simone, of St. Paul, has worked in education since 1988 when he first began teaching as a member of the Peace Corps.
“The whole reason you get into teaching is for the kids,” he said. “That’s just what the job is.
“Every step of the way, you’re trying to have as large of an impact on as many kids as possible.”
Simone worked as a social studies teacher within District 833 for many years before taking a job to help create the newly formed MSA in 1999.
As one of the founding members of MSA, Simone helped with the development of new curriculum.
“I was drawn to MSA because it was a small school setting and it was the opportunity to create an education program from the ground up – I felt this was where I could make the greatest impact,” he said.
Simone said helping develop the school’s curriculum, primarily the social studies, included a lot of long hours to ensure that they developed the best program possible.
“At the end of the day, you want a program that will help kids,” he said, “and I think we created a great education program.”
MSA, which is a public charter school, serves students in grades 6 through 12 and focuses on intense math and science courses, while also on challenging arts and humanities courses.
MSA’s curriculum requires that students achieve success in many core areas of education — math, science, English and social studies — in courses that range from British literature to economics to calculus to physics.
On average, 90 percent of MSA’s 360 students move on to college, whether that is a four-year university, a small private college or a technical college.
“The rigorous curriculum was part of differentiating ourselves,” Simone said. “Charter schools are expected to put together a program that expects students to perform beyond what is considered traditional.”
Simone moved into the director position in 2002. He said he moved into the position because he wanted to have a greater impact on the school’s successes.
“It was my job as director to make sure that no one particular area was overlooked,” he said.
Over the last decade under Simone’s leadership, MSA has received numerous national recognitions, including being designated a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education for continued superior student achievement.
Simone said he’s very proud that the school received such high status during his tenure.
“The biggest successes are the degree to which we have been successful,” he said. “When we first opened, we could not have imagined the degree to which we have been successful and that’s due in large part to the students and the teachers – we’ve created an environment where success was expected and it was achieved.”
Not ready for retirement
Even though Simone said he has come to the end of his career at MSA, he’s still far from being done with education.
Simone said he would like to stay involved in the charter school world in some capacity because that’s where his strengths and expertise are.
“Where exactly that is right now, I’m not sure,” he said. “I’m not done in education, I’m not done with education and I’m not done with charter schools.”
Now that Simone is poised to leave at the end of the school year, MSA has appointed both a transition team and search committee to assist in the new director search and to ensure a smooth transition this summer.
The school’s personnel committee and Board of Directors are hoping to have a new director in place by the fall.
Simone said the new director should have “creativity, initiative and a willingness to take risks.”