Cindy Barnes-Simons has ended a 25-year career in education, retiring as principal of Rivergold Elementary School in Coarsegold.
"I have had the most incredible 25-year teaching career," Simons said in a statement to the Yosemite Unified School District board. "I have been so fortunate to share my passion for teaching with hundreds of children of all ages . . . not only to make an impression of the importance of education, but to share the gift of kindness, compassion, and the significance of being a good citizen."
When Simons began her career in 1989, she was hired by the Coarsegold Union School District (CUSD) to teach a combined fifth/sixth grade class. The next year she taught third grade, and when the Rivergold campus opened in 1991, she transferred there. That first year, she taught fourth grade.
"Then I had the privilege to teach kindergarten for the next 20 years," Barnes-Simpson said.
The Coarsegold district later merged with the Yosemite Joint Union High School District. The two districts are now a part of the Yosemite Unified School District.
In addition to classroom duties, Simons has served as interim principal during two different time periods and she served as teacher in charge and Student Body Advisor for more than 17 years. She also served as Leadership Coordinator during many of her years at Rivergold.
Simons explained her personal educational philosophy.
"Every child has a personal learning style," she said. "Students must be treated as unique individuals. By creating a developmentally appropriate, integrated curriculum, you enhance students' learning. For students to learn and comprehend they must be actively involved in the learning process."
"A teacher's job is to guide, support, encourage, observe and facilitate learning," she said. "For success in a classroom, a positive community attitude is essential where there is an environment that is stimulating and provides the tools for effective self-direction and growth. Teachers teach students to think and problem solve."
Simons received her Bachelor's Degree in liberal studies as well as her multiple subject teaching credential from California State University, Fresno. Her Master's Degree in administrative services and her administrative services credential were earned at Fresno Pacific University.
Travel with her husband, Gary, more time with her seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren, gardening, and additional time for volunteering doing community service at her church are on her retirement agenda.
"I also want to read for pleasure and stay up-to-date with 21st century technology," she said.
"I have had the pleasure of working with the most amazing teachers and classified support staff," Simons said. "You're only as good as the team you work with. We're such a family at Rivergold. I have made so many life-long friends. No one could be so blessed. I am leaving knowing that Rivergold will be in good hands. Thank you for the phenomenal opportunity to serve such a wonderful community of children and families."