The students at Ann MacArthur Primary and L.V. Intermediate School will meet a new principal when they return to school this fall. Kurt Simon, a former elementary school principal and assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction from the Cold Spring Harbor Central School District, will be joining the Locust Valley Central School District on Aug. 3.
Simon, 42, began his career in education as a fifth grade classroom teacher at Lloyd Harbor School in CSH. Seven years later he became the principal of West Side School, also in CSH, and went on to become the assistant superintendent in 2018 for the Cold Spring Harbor Central School District.
But he soon realized, he said, that he missed the daily connection that he had with the community and he missed the children. When he heard there was an opening in Locust Valley, after the retirement of Dr. Sophia Gary, Locust Valley Elementary School’s principal, he decided to apply.
“Locust Valley is similar to Cold Spring Harbor, a small community,” said Simon, who married with two young children lives in East Setauket. “What I enjoyed as a principal before was getting to know everyone and their needs.”
After being an assistant superintendent for two years, he said, he realized that his passions were elsewhere. “It was in the walls of an elementary school,” he explained. “I love the day-to-day with students. I do believe in following what your passion is.”
Robert Fenter, Cold Spring Harbor Central School District’s superintendent, described Simon as an outstanding person and leader.
“Kurt is very keen to focus on the social and emotional needs of students to build perseverance skills which is needed more now than ever,” Fenter said. “It speaks a lot to what Kurt values, the importance of learning and developing academically and the need to develop skills that will help the children in life.”
Simon said it is important to empower children. He created the H.E.R.O. project for sixth graders when he was principal at West Side School. It was to empower them to take ownership of their school, he said. The project had students give tours of the school to incoming students and parents, hosted winter and spring concerts and ran an indoor recess program. The students also handled dismissal on a daily basis.
“Children do so many things so well, sometimes better than adults,” Simon said. “Watching them give a tour, they went into so much detail. What better tour then to get one from your peers.”
Acknowledging that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it, he said that families and teachers need support more now than ever before. And being creative will be even more important, he said.
His main goal, Simon said, is to connect with the community leadership team and learn from his colleagues as he transitions. Admitting he has so much to learn he said he is ready to listen. The leadership team in CSH was important when schools closed in March due to the virus. “Our leadership team worked to provide learning experiences for students. We had live instruction and videos were made by the teachers,” he said. “We found that during this time that like in the classroom students have different needs.”
Simon is up for the challenge to be the new guy and can’t wait to get started.
“Kurt is kind, thoughtful and caring,” Fenter said. “He is a constant professional.”