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North Dayton Leadership Team Making Every Moment Matter

When scholars and staff at the North Dayton School of Discovery are in need of a little inspiration, they don’t hesitate to turn to Principal Victoria Simmons and her leadership team.
Simmons and her leadership team have helped the school outperform the local district for four years. The recipe for success isn’t singular, rather it’s a balance between the character-focused curriculum at all National Heritage Academies (NHA) partner-schools and the rock-solid culture Simmons has developed inside the school.
“I think it has to be a good balance of the technical piece and the culture piece,” Simmons said. “I think if you're too lopsided on just culture, you're missing that learning technical part, but if you're only focused on the technical aspect, then people might not be happy and then that comes off in different ways. So, we try to balance both.”
The content taught is straight from NHA’s Curriculum and Instruction team, which supports all 101 partner-schools. But the culture is where Simmons and her leadership team put their own twist on effective management of staff and scholars.
Simmons and her deans are quick to intertwine several sayings and abbreviations into their expectations and leadership. It starts at the top with Making Every Moment Matter, or MEMMing as they refer to it. In everything scholars and staff do, making every second count is top of mind. During class visits, it was clear to Simmons scholars were soaking up the adage, and one told her not to worry because they were MEMMing.
Another saying stuck in scholars’ minds is “Grades go down when you’re not around.” Simmons said she will often use this mantra in videos she sends to parents and serves as a reminder that attendance is important. The saying came from a now-retired teacher at the school, and ties back into Making Every Moment Matter. Scholars aren’t the only ones to receive the reminder; the leadership team will even remind staff “Grades go down when you’re not around.”
Maintaining the school’s culture is embedded in Simmons’ routine. When school is in session, Simmons said she studies attendance data, weekly assessment data, and Lexia and DreamBox numbers. North Dayton’s former Director of School Quality Staci Bennett inspired Simmons to dive deep into data and keep up with what the numbers show her.
During the summer, Simmons and her leadership team are constantly in communication. They often collaborate with book studies or discussions about best practices and how to approach the upcoming school year. The summer work is a time for these leaders to bond, as well.
“We talk about the importance of us moving as one, having the same lens and vision, and not veering off the path,” Simmons said. “Are we operating as a true team? What areas are we strong? What areas do we need to look at to be better? We talk about these things so when school starts, we're ready to rock and roll. There's a lot of accountability with that.”
All of it culminates into a bigger picture for scholars, and that’s getting ready for what is beyond their time at North Dayton. That’s where the school brings in another mantra, encompassing everything school leaders strive to achieve.
“One of our slogans is ‘We don't just teach, we change lives.’” Simmons said. “So we try to look at the big picture. We want them prepared when they're leaving us, so when they go to high school as freshmen, they're not sitting lost in class. We really look at the big picture of where we want our students to be when they leave us at North Dayton and we stress that to the kids as well.
“We want you to be successful.”

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About North Dayton School of Discovery
North Dayton School of Discovery is a tuition-free, public charter school in Dayton, Ohio, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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