Alumnus named Colorado Middle School Principal of the Year


photo portrait of joe simo from waist up he wears grey dress shirt and dark tie against grey-blue background

Adams State University alumnus Joe Simo, principal of Centennial Middle School in Montrose, Colo., received the Colorado Middle School Principal of the Year awarded by the Colorado Association of School Executives, CASE, and the Colorado Association of Secondary School Principals. Simo will represent all of the secondary schools in Colorado for the National Principal of the Year competition in September.

According to the online article, CASE news, written by Melissa Gibson, director of Membership and Strategic Partners with CASE, his first year as principal Simo reduced the number of major office referrals from 200 to 45. He also mended a fractured faculty and staff environment.

“I enjoy working with middle school students because they still enjoy school and are excited for each day,” Simo said. “They are starting to experience independence within their education and it is rewarding to be able to support them in that process. I get to help guide them on their path of learning and that is exciting.”

Under Simo’s leadership, Centennial Middle School has been recognized as a National Honor of a School to Watch from the Colorado Association of Middle Level Educators (CAMIL); with the Colorado Department of Education as a Promising Practice School for its work with Assessment in Literacy; and as a “Don’t Quit! Fitness Center” by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils Chairman Jake Steinfeld.

He said Adams State prepared Simo to achieve a successful career. “Adams State has a fantastic education department that gave me an amazing foundation in education. I learned how to be a teacher and the basics of good student instruction.”

The School of Business taught him the skills to becoming a successful manager, including how to manage staff, market his school, and allocate the school’s financial resources. “When I received my graduate degree in educational leadership I learned how to be a transformational leader, what it means to be a great principal and the tools to make changes for the success of staff and students.”

Simo earned his Master of Arts in education leadership from Adams State in 2007 and his Bachelor of Arts in business administration/business education in 2000. While a student, Simo received the Business Student of the Year. “Adams State was an excellent school to attend for both my under graduate and graduate work.” He also met his wife, Jamie, at Adams State.

Now Simo encourages his students to attend college with a special recommendation for Adams State. He appreciated the small class sizes which allowed professors to connect with students on a personal level. “Connecting with your students is a proven way to ensure their success. Not only did Adams State teach me technical skills to be a teacher and administrator, my professors continued to model traits such as honesty, reliability, punctuality, and perseverance.”