For 29 years, I have worked full-time in public education as a teacher, teacher-director of a magnet program, assistant principal, principal and superintendent in New York City. Over the years, my interest in travel and international education has taken me to Poland, Ethiopia, India, Mongolia, and Japan to lead delegations of American educators in visiting schools in other countries.
Misha Simmonds '97 currently serves as Interim Chief School Administrator for Marion P. Thomas Charter School, a multi-site charter organization serving over 1,500 students in grades PreK-12 in Newark, NJ. Previously, Simmonds acted as the Executive Director of University Heights Charter School in Newark, NJ, a public school that serves 625 students in grades PreK-8 that is 90% low-income and 100% minority.
After TPP, I taught at a Democracy Prep Charter School in Camden, NJ as a 9th grade Writing teacher in the founding year (2014-15) of Freedom Prep High School, under the direction of fellow Princetonian, Ron Brady, after he moved on from Foundation Academies. The experience was demanding, not simply because I was a first year teacher, but also because it was the first year of Freedom Prep's "turn around" - from a public school to a charter high school within the DP network. The relationships I developed with students, co-workers, and administrators made it a very rewarding experience.
When I think of Teacher Prep, I think of Henry. Seeing the stories of the new Drewry Scholars really brought tears to my eyes. I wish they could have known Henry. His smile and laugh, the always raspy voice, and his belief in you as a future teacher were magic.
TPP was one of the best parts of my Princeton experience. One aspect of the program that I particularly valued was that the program was built on courses from a variety of disciplines rather than all within a school of education. That serves as a foundation for my interdisciplinary approach to educational design and research. Henry Drewry was an inspiration to Princeton students, especially in terms of helping us understand our responsibility to utilize our talents to improve education for all children, and he encouraged us to make contributions at any level of the educational system.
I have been working as an attorney, but my greatest experiences have been with education. I serve as an elected school board member in our district, I serve as a board member at a local independent high school, and I started a non-profit called Children for Change that has expanded to three school districts.
I've been a teacher for 13 years. I have taught in three states and three countries: mostly high school, but two years of 8th grade and some summer work with elementary students. I've taught English, Language Arts, and ESL. I have two masters degrees, one in education policy and one in educational administration, and am now in my first official leadership position as the Supervisor of Humanities at Princeton High School.
I went straight to graduate school after finishing TPP, and since then have taught at the university level. Since I arrived at my current position, about fifteen years ago, I've moved over more from straight English to English Education. I am currently the Director of Graduate English Education since 2006; that includes overseeing MAT program interns, handling curriculum development, and acting as primary advisor.
My roommate and I were both assigned to student teach at Princeton Middle School in the fall of 1975. We would walk each morning from our dorm room in Walker Hall. Since I was a townie, I had actually attended Princeton Middle School not too many years earlier. I thus had the strange privilege of teaching alongside many of my former teachers. I decided to teach immediately after graduation because I felt that my education was not complete.
After graduating from Princeton University in 1974, I went directly to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where I earned a PhD in Developmental Psychology in 1978. That summer, I married Richard Steinbrook, MD, who was in a residency program at Harvard Medical School, and moved to Boston. My experience teaching psychology at UPenn, particularly during summer sessions, reminded me that I'm happiest in a classroom, discussing ideas face-to-face.