Meeting Dr. Simms: A Conversation with NPHS’s New Principal

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By Kendall Lucchesi, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Anyone who has roamed the hallways of New Paltz High School the past four years will tell you one thing with certainty; the door to the main office remains closed. So, when students entered our hallowed halls in September, only to be greeted with a wide open office door, it was clear that change was among us. The face of this change– Dr. Samuelle Simms.

Dr. Simms, a self proclaimed impassioned educator, is no stranger to the classroom. She received 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. She began her teaching and administrative career in New York City, then moving to her previous position, serving as Vice Principal at Beacon High School. 

“From a very early age I became aware of the world around me, specifically in education and the inequities that exist. I saw them  [inequities] because I was experiencing them to a certain extent, but when I started working at my first school, that’s when I really saw the true inequities in terms of access, in terms of supplies, etc.”

Dr. Simms

This blatant display of inequalities during her own schooling was exactly what led Dr. Simms to education and eventually administrative work. 

 “For me, there’s always a need,” Simms explains. “It doesn’t matter where you are or who you’re working with, there’s always a need. It then becomes how do I tap into what that need is and how can I help to address that need. For example, there may be some high achieving students but they may have some mental health needs or there may be students who aren’t doing as well and it’s due to an outside need.”

Although it may seem as though she spends all her time on the ground floor of New Paltz High School, Dr. Simms has a number of other passions outside of administration. She’s a strong advocate for the arts and a firm believer in incorporating those arts into education. For a while, she was an active member of her church’s choir and even received classical training in college. At home, she has a one-year old son named Hudson who she absolutely adores. 

When asked what Simms’ envisions for the future of New Paltz High School her answer came with no hesitation. 

“I want to get an understanding of the fabric and makeup of New Paltz High while also digging deep and asking what are the needs of my students. I want to be able to understand each of my students and the needs they have, then, as a school community, figure out  how we can fulfill those needs.”

Dr. Simms

Simms’ envisions a more accessible environment, one free of the stigma surrounding administrative presence. 

“One thing I want the students to know is that I’m accessible. Sometimes I feel like there’s this distance of “Oh no the principal’s office,” but I want to break away from that stigma. I want my office to be an open space,” she says.