As the principal at Harper Archer Elementary School, Dione Simon works to ensure all students are positioned to thrive regardless of where they start.
“This is why I became an educator, so that I can help put quality teachers in front of every student every day. Each child deserves a quality education, regardless of anything else,” said Principal Simon.
At a school located in one of the poorest zip codes in the state, one thing Principal Simon makes certain to do is defy what poverty says about children’s academic performance. She makes sure Harper Elementary’s faculty and staff are always thinking about what they need to remove the barriers and challenges the students face.
“I know that poverty has its own set of struggles, but school is home and we want to make certain that all of our students have experiences that allow them to become well-rounded scholars,” said Principal Simon. “APS has done a great job at budgeting funds based on need, and I make certain to allocate those funds well to ensure kids have every possible opportunity to be successful.”
Principal Simon does this by making sure Harper Archer has multiple options for enrichment classes. She also works to ensure the building is designed with spaces for all types of learners and educators, giving them room to move throughout the school and collaborate with one another. By staying attuned to what individual staff and students need to thrive, Principal Simon is able to personalize professional development and classroom instruction.
When it comes to community partners, she knows it’s important that they are aligned with equity work, ensuring they know exactly what unique needs are necessary for all students to succeed. Principal Simon also helps educate parents about what equity looks like. This allows them to all hold each other accountable and ensure fair practices exist.
“Just because we’re in a certain area doesn’t mean we’re not going to have access to high quality resources,” said Principal Simon. “I wake up every day with purpose, and my staff and students are my purpose. I’m responsible for keeping the conversation of equity going.”