Payson High School’s new vice principal, Jeff Simon, has a passion for education, students and warm weather.
When he saw the administrative job postings for Payson, he applied to all three because he had to get out of Craig, Colo. He believed Payson was his destiny.
“Last year, we had three days of negative 47 degrees,” he said. While he has no qualms deploring the cold weather, he has deep roots in Craig. Both sets of great-grandparents homesteaded in the area, but he did not inherit their tolerance to the cold weather — it made him miserable.
“The science teacher at our school used to do an experiment with warm water,” Simon said. “He and his students would come outside all bundled up and watch as he threw the water into the freezing air. It would immediately turn to vapor. I would watch from my office window.”
A quiz on PickYourSpot.com came up with Payson as the No. 1 place for him to live in the United States.
Add to the mix that his mother lives in Surprise and everything was a recipe for “here I come!”
Already, he feels at home. His oldest son, a freshman at the high school, is currently bonding with the football team at camp.
His middle child, a daughter, looks forward to fifth grade.
His youngest will start kindergarten at the end of July.
And Simon has had nothing but good vibes from the Payson High School staff these first couple of weeks.
“Everyone has been so cheerful and helpful,” he said.
Simon’s favorite subject in school was social studies. His family history inspired him. Some of his relatives colonized Jamestown, Va. and another signed the Declaration of Independence. He has a certificate on the wall of his office authenticating that his relative, John Hart from New Jersey, signed the document that started the Revolutionary War.
However, he did not choose education as his first career. He thought he’d be a police officer, but soon figured out that would not make him happy.
Needing to pay the bills, he took a job in a meat packing plant — on the kill floor. That really did not make him happy.
His mentor came to the rescue.
“One of my mentors, a formal basketball coach, asked me if I’d like to try coaching,” said Simon.
He loved it.
“When you coach, you see kids on a whole different level,” he said.
From coaching he went into the classroom where the fun continued.
“My first year of teaching, a kid
tried to burn down my classroom,” he said. He was sure his principal would fire him, but instead, he gave Simon praise for how he handled the situation.
“The bell had just rung, the student lit the paper on fire and dropped it onto the carpet. I finished getting the students out of the classroom and put out the flame. The carpet only had a little burn on it,” said Simon.
He thought he would be in the classroom forever, but administration beckoned.
When asked what he believes administration is about he said, “It’s a lot of not sitting around.”
Simon looks forward to meeting with students, staff and parents.
For now though, he is enjoying his new state — especially the bugs.
He also finds the beetle’s large sizes primordial. He dropped a quarter next to the bug to show the size on a picture. Then there was the tarantula.
“There was a tarantula on the stairs,” he said. “I thought it was fake!”
It moved and he discovered it was very real.