Involved in education for nearly two decades, Eric Simoni is excited about the newest chapter in his career.
He has taken over the role of principal at Escalon High School, greeting his first crop of Cougars when they returned to school earlier this month. He spent 19 years with the Manteca Unified School District before moving a little further east along Highway 120 to Escalon.
“I taught social science for 12 years, was the athletic director for two years and then was vice principal for five years,” he said, adding that he spent all 19 years at East Union.
He grew up in Manteca, attended East Union and said the Central Valley is home. Though noting that the entire valley has changed a lot over the years, he said what drew him to Escalon was the fact that it reminds him of the Manteca he knew growing up, with a real sense of family and community. He also felt it was the right time for him to “venture outside” his hometown to seek a leadership position.
“Life as a principal can be challenging, to say the least,” Simoni explained, adding that it is a challenge he is eager to accept at EHS. “This fit me as a person. It was good for my family, I wanted to be part of a community and Escalon has that.”
Simoni said that the staff and fellow administrators at Escalon have been very welcoming and supportive and he is excited about the school year ahead.
“You have to be on top of your game,” he said of being an effective leader, “and I respond to that.”
After attending College of the Sequoias in Visalia, Simoni then went to Westmont College, a private school near Santa Barbara. He received his credential at UOP.
“The students have been fantastic, so polite and respectful, I appreciate that,” Simoni said of the EHS student body. “I think there is a sense of family and a real partnership that helps to make this school great.”
As a principal, Simoni said he feels that his primary role is to make connections with the students and “help them find their way, post high school,” by creating an environment designed to help them set and achieve goals.
Advice he was given as he approached his new job at EHS, Simoni said, was to “be yourself.”
And that has helped make the transition easy, as he looks to lead the entire EHS team.
“I feel comfortable,” he said. “I think people have reinforced that, people here have helped me be me.”