Misha Simmonds '97

Misha and students standing next to Mayor Corey Booker

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. During his tenure the school has gone from near state closure and bottom rankings in student achievement to state approval for expansion to grades PreK-8 and national recognition through the EPIC Silver-Gain Award for breakthrough student achievement gains.

Having been disappointed by traditional teacher professional development, Simmonds implemented a more integrated approach that has been central to the school's growth. The school allocated three full weeks allocated during the summer and 100 minutes of professional development with the principal every 4 cycle days. Through this embedded approach, new techniques were learned, implemented, and evaluated immediately for maximum effectiveness.

Before coming to University Heights, Simmonds taught middle school for 5 years in Kathmandu, Nepal and Newark, NJ. He also worked 3 years as an Associate Partner for NewSchools Venture Fund and completed a one year internship at North Star Academy in Newark through the New Leaders for NewSchools program. He is an alumni of the Princeton History Department and Teacher Preparation Program. He also earned an MBA at Harvard Business School and an M.Ed. at Baruch College (City University of NY) and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Baruch College.