Good luck Dr. Simms

Superintendent Cyndy Simms is leaving the Mercer Island School District this month to lead a school district in California.When she joined the district in 2003 after a succession of superintendents, Simms inherited a school district in turmoil.

Surveys showed that Island high school students were stressed and felt alienated from the community. The School Board was torn over how to bring challenge to students through advanced classes. The district was taken aback by a book written by a teacher who told of his unpleasant experiences teaching on the Island. The memoir was equally disparaging of parents and administrators.

Simms tackled the issue of trust head on. She brought with her a calm demeanor and a willingness to be inclusive. She listened but understood her role as a decision maker.

She began a gifted program, helped establish the Autism Spectrum program at Lakeridge, and after much emotional discussion by the community, set the Bridges advisory program in motion at the high school.

As promised, she brought the concept of governance to the workings of the School Board.

Some wonder why the tenure of school leaders seems to have shrunk. But few in any profession stay long in a job these days. It is wishful thinking to believe that superintendents are different than anyone else.

Simms came with the firm intention of staying on the Island. She bought a house, enrolled her daughter at Mercer Island High School, joined an Island church and Rotary. She stood on the street directing traffic during the Rotary Run, she carpooled for soccer. She accompanied the 250-student Mercer Island High School marching band to Pasadena for a rain-soaked Rose Bowl parade.

But life doesn’t always go as planned.

There were some missteps as there was bound to be in the inexact science of dealing with people. The School Board did not extend her contract beyond 2009. But Simms understands how to work with the media. She is smart, forthright and accessible. She is empathetic and truly cares about educating all students.

We think highly of Dr. Simms. We wish her well.

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