During her 52 years in education Bertie Simmons has earned a reputation as a visionary, a creative problem solver, and a successful change agent.
The 1977 SHSU Master of Educational Administration graduate also holds a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University and a doctorate from Texas Southern University.
Through her 36 years as an educational administrator, Simmons has led schools all around Houston, including serving as Houston ISD regional superintendent and assistant superintendent for school operations.
As principal of Furr High School in Houston ISD, where she currently works, Simmons dedicates herself to providing quality educational opportunities to underrepresented youth.
Since taking the lead at the school in 2000, Simmons has turned FHS and its student body from hopelessness, violence, and fear to belief, opportunities, and academic achievement, according to those with whom she has worked.
“It was described as a throwaway school,” Simmons said. “Almost the entire school was involved in riots, with a total of 14 identified gangs.”
Though threatened and harassed by teachers to leave, she accepted the challenge at Furr and took 32 of her gang members and nine members of the student council to Ground Zero in New York City, a trip she said resulted in the students learning to make peace with one another and giving the school a chance to move forward.
“We have shown respect to the students, and I get to know them in order to find out what needs they have,” she said. “I meet their parents, and we all work together as a team.”
For her efforts, Simmons was recognized earlier this year with the SHSU College of Education’s “Distinguished Educator of the Year Award” as a “Friend of Education.” She previously has been recognized as the Texas State H-E-B Secondary Principal of the Year; with the American Association for Retired People’s “Ethel Percy Andrus Legacy Award;” with the KHOU’s “Schools Now Apple Award;” and is a past recipient of the “Young Audiences of Houston Fredell Lack Award for Integrating the Arts in Education;” among many others.
She is also active within the Houston community and has presented a number of professional presentations, including serving as a discussion leader for SHSU’s Elliott T. Bowers Honors College fundraising event “Let’s Talk!” this year.