SHEFFIELD -- Veteran educator and school administrator Thomas A. Simon has been appointed today to a one-year interim elementary principal position for the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, effective immediately.
He fills a role vacated this spring by Erin Woodsome, who resigned, effective July 1. She had been on administrative leave since April 30.
Superintendent David Hastings said that Simon will oversee the education programs of Undermountain Elementary School in Sheffield, New Marlborough Central School, South Egremont School and the Monterey School, which includes a total of about 430 students and 65 faculty and staff members. The majority of faculty members are veteran educators, Hastings said.
Hastings told The Eagle on Thursday afternoon that he made the appointment after reviewing roughly 30 applications for the position, which was posted in May.
Simon returns to the district after 16 years, having served in the 1990s as a middle school alternative program clinical instructor for Mount Everett Regional School.
"I’m actually very excited about getting back here, where I got my start, and especially getting back into the elementary school. I’m looking forward to working with the families, some of which include the kids of kids I used to teach," Simon said.
Community members are invited to attend from 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, a free ice cream and coffee social to meet with Simon in the Undermountain Elementary School cafeteria.
Prior to taking the position at SBRSD, Simon had spent the past five years working as the director of special education for the Berkshire Hills Regional School District in Great Barrington. Before that, he was the principal of Morningside Community School in Pittsfield, where he also served as the school-community coordinator for a year.
Simon is certified as a principal/assistant principal, superintendent/assistant superintendent, special education administrator, and as a special needs teacher.
In other experience, he served as a special needs teacher both at Morningside, and at Hillcrest Educational Centers Inc., working at a residential site in Lenox.
In a press release issued Thursday morning by Hastings about Simon’s new role with the district, Hastings wrote, "Tom brings a history of collaboration, teacher empowerment, and team/relationship building within the school and community to his new position. Others have praised him as an innovative problem-solver with strong people and technology skills, able to see the "big picture" and map a course to meet district goals."
"We’re always looking to improve academics, but also to continue outreach into our communities, in terms of finding volunteers and local experts on the subject matters we teach to enhance the programs we have in the district," Hastings said in a phone interview on Thursday. "Basically my marching order to Tom is to build relationships. You can’t do anything without relationships."
Simon has an established history in the region. He is a graduate of Pittsfield High School and Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield.
He holds bachelor’s degrees from Westfield State University in liberal studies/special education and in business administration. His master’s degree in education comes from Cambridge College.
He’s an active member of the Board of Directors at the Credit Union of the Berkshires. He has also coached several youth activities including soccer, baseball, and a Lego Robotics team at Egremont Elementary School.
Simon and his wife Lori live in Pittsfield with their three youngest children, Eva, Anthony and Joshua, all of whom are active in local sports, music and theater. Their oldest son Jonathan lives nearby with his girlfriend Lexi and their son Eli. Simon’s family is also active in local soccer and running teams, often running together in area road races.
"My biggest goal in the first few months on the job is going to be about building relationships, and becoming part of the [Southern Berkshire] community again ... It’s a geographically large but socially tight-knit area," said Simon.