Aija Simmons (she/her/hers) specializes in creating safe, non-evaluative spaces to meet leaders where they are and help move them forward. Aija serves as Program Manager in the Department of Social and Emotional Learning in Oakland Unified School District supporting leaders to create the conditions for effective learning partnerships and successful professional learning spaces. She is an expert in inquiry, leading workshops and professional development through the Mills Teacher Scholars Collaborative Inquiry program and the Bay Area Writing Project. Aija’s work has been referred to as a model for how reflective practice can have a profound effect on our teaching and even augment what is possible for our students, our schools, and our communities.
Natural leader and native of Oakland, Aija began teaching in Oakland Unified School District in 2006. Fueled by her own experience as an Oakland student working to overcome systemic disadvantages, microaggressions, and perceived limitations, Aija works to provide students the safety and freedom that comes from a sense of belonging coupled with the rigor necessary to increase their proficiency.
A speaker, writer, and avid reader. Aija’s writing has been published in, Inside our Schools Teachers on the Failure and Future of Education Reform by Harvard Education Publishing Group and she has been featured in Ed Leadership Magazine, Center for Teaching Quality reports, Visual Thinking Strategies Digital Newsletter, and an episode of Life Kit on National Public Radio.
Mrs. Simmons received her BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and her MA from Mills College School of Education. But most importantly Aija is dedicated to faith, community, family, and radical love.