By Rebecca Figueroa
After working 35 years at the East Los Angeles College Child Development Center, Director Michael Simone is set to retire on June 30. He will have a retirement party at the Child Development Center next Wednesday to celebrate his years on campus and his years to come.
Simone said he plans to fish and sail more after he retires, but has mixed emotions about leaving the job he loves.
“I will miss being here. Being able to work with others who enjoy working with young children is really great,” Simone said. Simone started at the center in its first years when there was only one bungalow for about 60 students.
“I remember my first day at the center when it opened. There was a line wrapped all the way around with applicants trying to enroll,” Simone said.
Since then Simone said he worked profoundly to keep the center going and growing. Simone attended ELAC as a student, where at first he was focused on becoming an elementary school teacher.
Then his neighbor informed him about the child development field. Simone ventured into a child development class at ELAC and said “I was hooked from that point. It all starts at a young age. You really need to set a foundation for education to be fun and enjoyable.”
Simone went on to California State University, Los Angeles studying and majoring in child development with credentials specializing in early child development. Simone picked up his first teaching job at L.A. Mission College’s Child Development Center, but by the end of the year his position was cut due to the passing of Proposition 13, which ultimately eliminated funding for the center.
Simone soon found himself back at ELAC as a teacher for the Child Development Center, “coming back to ELAC was like coming home,” Simone said. Longtime friends and co-teachers of the Child Development Center Renee Volkov and Jennifer Jarman, said they will miss Simone and thank him for all he has done.
“I’m going to miss him. He has made me a better teacher and parent, and has always been so supportive of each teacher and the curriculum they chose to teach in their class” said Jarman.
Volkov who worked with Simone for more than 30 years was surprised to hear of Simone’s retirement and said “I’m very sad to see him go. He has been able to meet our needs as an educator to young children. He is a good listener and provides a great learning environment.”
Simone is confident that the center will be left in good hands. He said “Our administration is very supportive of our program. I know it will be left in good hands.”