IDEA Spotlight: Sala Sims, Principal in Residence, IDEA Tampa Bay

Sala Sims, Principal in Residence for IDEA Tampa Bay, believes that when you support children on their journey to and through college – you are ultimately changing their lives forever.  

“I believe in the power of education to change the lives of children and the power of schools to change entire communities,” Sims said.  

Our priority is to elevate students on their journey through grade school, college, and beyond. Sims is training to lead a team of teachers and staff of her own once IDEA Tampa Bay doors open.  

Read on to learn more about her experience and her goals for her future campus. 

What does your education journey look like?  

I attended undergraduate school at the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. I wanted to learn more about transforming communities through economic development, so I went on to attend graduate school at the University of Illinois Chicago and obtained a Master of Urban Planning and Policy. 

As a planner, I understood that communities transform when we improve educational opportunities within communities. To learn more about the impact that education could have on people and communities, I decided to enter the field of education.  I attended DePaul University and obtained a Master of Teaching and Learning. After teaching, I transitioned into education leadership.  I attended National Louis University and obtained a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Administration and Supervision. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at Concordia University, and I am writing a dissertation focused on Education Leadership: Early Childhood Education. 

What led you to the goal of leading your own campus? 

I believe in the power of education to change the lives of children and the power of schools to change entire communities. I want to lead an IDEA campus because IDEA has created and has actualized a mission that changes the game for children and communities.  When you have one mission and that is to see children to and through college, your work changes the lives of children forever! I want to lead an Academy campus that develops and solidifies a foundation of high achievement, in every content area, for every scholar that we serve.   

How would describe the PIR program in your own words? 

The PIR program provides me with the opportunity to learn the IDEA model, develop my new learning, and apply the IDEA School Leadership Levers on campus, for an entire school year.  During the PIR program, you reflect on your leadership strengths and gaps, and create a plan of action that focuses on improving your practice.  Throughout the PIR year, you receive coaching and feedback from a mentor principal, their director of leadership, and from a cohort of PIRs who are learning and leading together.  

What are you most excited about in the PIR program? 

I am most excited about learning and applying the systems that IDEA uses to ensure that leaders improve instruction, through effective instructional leadership. As IDEA PIR leaders, we develop high-quality teachers by engaging in focused coaching cycles. As instructional leaders at our school sites, we work hard to intentionally coach teachers to increasingly advanced levels of instruction, which in turn results in higher student outcomes.  

What resonates with you about the Tampa Bay community and what do you hope IDEA accomplishes in the region? 

Tampa Bay is a beautiful and growing region. I appreciate the variety of cultures present in Tampa Bay and know that as the region and economy continue to grow, there will be a lot of employment opportunities for its’ residents, particularly in the tech and innovation sectors.  As the tech and innovation sectors grow, the Tampa Bay region must ensure that it has a highly educated and skilled workforce and that all of Tampa Bay’s residents benefit from the economic growth within the region. IDEA will help the region meet the demand for a college-educated workforce by fulfilling our mission of seeing our scholars to and through college.  

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