After a tough and tumultuous year, Kristin Simons is ready to hit the reset button. Now, she’ll be taking on the top post for Wilkinson School, set to serve as its new head of school starting this fall.
Currently the school’s learning specialist and academic lead, Simons holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Gonzaga University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Southern New Hampshire University. Her 25 years of teaching in public and private schools has focused on working with special education students. But ever since coming to Wilkinson in 2019, she’s found herself taking on roles supporting teachers and monitoring student success.
“As an educator, I thrive on collaboration,” Simons said.
This year, as the El Granada private school had to adjust to remote learning, then to bringing students back onto campus incrementally, education was all about working together. Simons said she has relied on the expertise of Wilkinson teachers to adapt first to teaching online, then to teaching outdoors before moving inside for socially distanced and masked school.
“We had to have many meetings about how to do it,” Simons said. “...“It just felt really good because everybody’s voices were part of the decision-making process.”
Now, Simons is looking ahead to next year, when she hopes to bring back some of the project-based learning and field trips that make Wilkinson unique. She also wants to home in on the school’s youngest students, preparing them for the years ahead.
Plus, there’s a lot to learn from what did and didn’t work during the pandemic. Simons saw trust, flexibility, communication and optimism among staff as the key to their success, and it’s what she wants to bring to her new role leading the team.
“Really being available to people, hearing them, letting their voices be heard, it's really important in a small community like ours,” Simons said.
For Simons, this new role is an opportunity to dedicate her days to supporting the school, its staff, its students and the wider Coastside community, taking those responsibilities off the shoulders of already-busy staff. She’s already got a three-year plan in the works to expand students’ exposure to the arts, starting this fall.
“We will make the impossible possible with creativity and resiliency,” Simons said.