The New Paltz Central School District (NPCSD) has hired Samuelle Simms, Ed.D. as the new principal of New Paltz High School (NPHS). Dr. Simms will be responsible for overseeing the school’s academics, special education, curriculum alignment with State standards, graduation pathways, professional development, building and maintaining community partnerships and more in the approximately 680-student school. Dr. Simms started her post in early August.
Speaking about the appointment of Dr. Simms, NPCSD Superintendent Angela Urbina-Medina said, “We are so pleased to welcome Dr. Simms to our team. There is a lot of work to be done, and Dr. Simms is committed to establishing an environment in which all students feel safe, secure and have as many academic opportunities as possible. I believe she will be able to implement the equity-based initiatives that we have begun to put in place and advance our culture of equity and inclusion.”
Dr. Simms is herself no stranger to the classroom, having earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration from New York University, a Master of Science degree in Special Education from Brooklyn College and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Russell Sage College.
In addition to having several years of teaching experience at the high school and middle school levels, she was an assistant principal at a pre-kindergarten through Grade 8 school in New York City for four years. Most recently, Dr. Simms served as an assistant principal of a high school in Beacon for five years. During her tenure in Beacon, she increased course options, expanded extracurricular options, worked to support at-risk, special education and English as a New Language students, incorporated restorative practices and decreased the number of student disciplinary infractions.
Dr. Simms explained that during her first year of teaching, she soon realized that not all students have access to the best possible education. She said she quickly became an advocate for her students to expand their opportunities to help them grow academically and socially.
Dr. Simms said that as a “culturally responsive” leader, she welcomes the opportunity to work with the NPHS community to continue the equity-based initiatives that the district has begun, and to foster a student- and family-centered community. “It is our obligation as a community to advocate for and support our students so that they can reach academic mastery,” she said.
One of her primary goals, Dr. Simms said, will be to partner with faculty, staff, students and families to co-create a shared vision for the advancement of the school. “Since student engagement is at the core, building and crafting instructional practices so that they are engaging, of student interest and beneficial is a priority,” she said.
Dr. Simms describes herself as caring, optimistic and focused. She is married and has a one year-old son. While not at work, Dr. Simms enjoys cooking and gardening. She added that she is also a “pretty good” singer.
New Paltz Schools hire CIA grad as new food services director
The NPCSD has hired Sheila Moran, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, as its new food services director. Moran, a resident of Clermont, will be responsible for serving school meals to the district’s 2,138 students. Moran comes to New Paltz from the Webutuck School District, where she worked as a food services director for nine years. Previously, Moran worked for hotels, hospitals and resorts. She said that she has always enjoyed the fact that the culinary field offers job opportunities across the country. During her career, she has worked and lived in New Hampshire, Wyoming, Idaho and New Jersey (where she grew up).
She will oversee all aspects of the Food Service Department, administering the school meal program in accordance with local, state and federal policies. To that end, she will procure food, plan menus and train staff, while implementing high standards for safety, sanitation and meal quality.
Food service is a fast-paced industry, Moran noted, adding that it demands grit, determination and the willingness to work hard. Moran feels that she possesses these qualities. “My core purpose is to have well-nourished students, prepared to succeed,” she said. “I want every student to have access to nutritious meals at school, ensuring optimal health and well-being.” Access to free school meals through a US Department of Agriculture initiative has been extended for the 2021-22 school year, she says, enabling all students to eat breakfast and lunch at school at no cost.
Moran, who is looking to provide leadership to support the nutrition and wellness of both students and staff, considers herself to be approachable, a good listener and fair. “I want to collaborate with teachers, parents and other health professionals to meet the needs of the entire district,” she said. Moran added that she would also like to work with area farmers and local businesses to “showcase” their foods.
In her former job, Moran worked with students in a cooking club, teaching them how to prepare farm-fresh ingredients into meals. During her “Cooking with Chef Sheila” series, Moran taught club members basic cooking skills and culinary mathematics. Before the pandemic hit, Moran was about to start a lunchtime class where she would have taught students how to create buttercream roses and flowers using a piping bag.
Outside of work, Moran enjoys golfing, swimming, walking her dog, Glacier, and spending time with family and friends. Prior to the pandemic, Moran also used to Irish step dance every week.
“We are so pleased to have a professional of [Moran’s] caliber join our team,” said Superintendent Urbina-Medina. “Her background experience of working with students directly and her determination to make every meal as nutritious and inviting as possible, while operating a tight fiscal budget, are just a few of the reasons we are looking forward to working with her.”