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Ralph Simpson

High school principal Ralph Simpson was born on December 14, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia to Roxie and Harry Simpson. Simpson was an average student and attended the Atlanta Public Schools and graduated from Southwest High School. Simpson enrolled in West Georgia College and received his B.A degree in criminal justice in 1986.

After graduation, Simpson worked for the Georgia State Department of Corrections for four years to become a teacher. He was employed with the DeKalb County Board of Education. In the DeKalb School System, he experienced tremendous success as a teacher, mentor, and leader.

Simpson returned to West Georgia College to pursue his M.A. degree in administration and supervision. In 1996, Simpson was promoted to assistant principal of discipline, instruction, and attendance at Miller Grove Middle School in Lithonia, Georgia. In 1998, Simpson was assigned to Stone Mountain High School as the assistant principal of discipline, and in 2000, Simpson became the first African American principal in the history of Stone Mountain, Georgia. Simpson earned his Ph.D. in educational leadership at the University of Sarasota in February of 2004.

Simpson became the first principal of Miller Grove High School, which is the largest high school in DeKalb County, Georgia. He is involved in several professional and public service organizations. Among these are the National Association of Educators, Georgia Association of Educators, DeKalb Association of Secondary School Administrators, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Accession Number

A2006.175

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/15/2006

Last Name

Simpson

Maker Category
Schools

Southwest High School

University of West Georgia

Beecher Hills Elementary School

Woodson Elementary School

Argosy University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Evenings, Weekends

First Name

Ralph

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

SIM04

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $1,000 - $5,000

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Miami, South Beach, Florida

Favorite Quote

If You Don't Stand For Something, You Will Fall For Anything.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/14/1963

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Grilled Hot Dogs

Short Description

High school principal Ralph Simpson (1963 - ) was the first African American principal in the history of Stone Mountain, Georgia, serving as principal of Stone Mountain High School. Simpson was also the first principal of Miller Grove High School.

Employment

Metro Correctional Institution

Main Street Elementary School

Miller Grove High School

Stone Mountain High School

Miller Grove Middle School

Favorite Color

Black, White

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ralph Simpson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ralph Simpson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ralph Simpson describes his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ralph Simpson describes his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ralph Simpson describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ralph Simpson describes his father

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ralph Simpson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ralph Simpson describes his childhood neighborhood in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ralph Simpson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ralph Simpson recalls his elementary school experiences in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ralph Simpson recalls influential teachers from his elementary school years

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ralph Simpson recalls his grades in elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ralph Simpson describes his aspirations during elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ralph Simpson recalls his childhood activities in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ralph Simpson describes his experiences at Atlanta's Southwest High School, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ralph Simpson describes his experiences at Atlanta's Southwest High School, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ralph Simpson recalls his involvement at Southwest High School

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ralph Simpson recalls his decision to attend West Georgia College

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ralph Simpson describes his academic progress at West Georgia College

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ralph Simpson describes his interest in rap during the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ralph Simpson recalls the Atlanta Missing and Murdered Children cases

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ralph Simpson recalls his position at Metro Correctional Institution

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ralph Simpson recall his introduction to the Nation of Islam

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ralph Simpson describes the start of his career as an educator

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ralph Simpson talks about educator Danny Buggs

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ralph Simpson recalls losing his job at Main Street Elementary School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ralph Simpson recalls earning a master's degree at the University of West Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ralph Simpson describes his leadership style as a school administrator

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ralph Simpson talks about his support for school dress codes

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ralph Simpson recalls his doctoral studies at the University of Sarasota, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ralph Simpson recalls his doctoral studies at the University of Sarasota, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ralph Simpson talks about mentoring his students as a high school principal

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ralph Simpson recalls becoming the principal of Miller Grove High School

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ralph Simpson describes the special programs at Miller Grove High School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ralph Simpson describes his campaign for parental support at Miller Grove High School

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ralph Simpson talks about the role of parents in their children's education

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ralph Simpson describes his plans and hopes for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ralph Simpson reflects upon his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ralph Simpson reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ralph Simpson reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ralph Simpson describes his mentorship of staff members as a principal, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Ralph Simpson describes his mentorship of staff members as a principal, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Ralph Simpson describes his academic progress at West Georgia College
Ralph Simpson recalls becoming the principal of Miller Grove High School
Transcript
This one brother that would always come to check on me, wonderful fraternity brother [in Omega Psi Phi Fraternity], and this was before I was initiated in, he would always come to visit. He was from Atlanta [Georgia]. And when he came down, I was introduced to him and I was introduced by the brothers then as, you know, that's the guy that's from Atlanta who's always supportive. He's at all of our events, we really like him, we want him to go online it just--we want him to pledge, but he didn't have the grades. So every time he came to visit he would say, "Hey man, how your grades doing?" And then a year later he came and said, "Man you--you worked it out, you--you stuck in there and you made it happen." From that day until now, he's still my mentor. Because he was the first person that I could identify with that had graduated from college, was working in that field, had--had purchased a home, driving a nice car. My brother [Henry Simpson III] was just a year older than I was, so that was really no model or role model, or didn't really look up to him, he was going through the same things that I was going through. But that was the first example that I saw of education being a means to your success or the reason or rationale for graduating. And when I asked him, I said, "Man how did you go all this, what did--?" He said, "Well, you know, my major was this and I worked in my field, and this is why." So after leaving his house that weekend on my way back to West Georgia [West Georgia College; University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia], I was saying, wow, maybe I need to graduate. So I went back to school, and yes. I did enough work to continue with that lifestyle in college because I really enjoyed it, the lifestyle. I didn't want to come back home, so I did enough work to get by to stay in school. But when I went back I said, well, you know, maybe I need to graduate. Declared a major. I think I took an introduction to criminal justice class. And that was really interesting to me. That was the first thing that interested me, first time something had interested me. So I said oh okay, wow, I'll change it to criminal justice. And the more and more I got into it, the better it became and my grades got better. I think I--one of my professors, Dr. Fuller [John R. Fuller], I'll never forget him. He showed me how to study. I didn't know how to study, I had no study habits whatsoever. No study skills. He showed me how to study. And when I used the technique in which he gave me, I started making good grades on tests and it was like, wow. So for my junior year, my last two years, I'm sure my grade point average may have reflected 3.0 or better. But it was the first two years that killed it, that kept me in the low twos. But, you know, I declared a major in criminal justice and, you know, it was time to graduate on out of there. But, you know, again it was that social part of college that kept me motivated. I mean, I enjoyed it. You know, being in a fraternity and the partying, and visiting other campuses throughout the State of Georgia, beyond the State of Georgia. You know, I was the chapter president; that was my first time ever in a leadership position. I was kind of thrust into it because the brothers all graduated and, you know, it wasn't a bureaucracy, it wasn't a democracy, you know, it was an autocracy, it was very autocratic 'cause I ran everything. No vote. It was what I wanted because that's all I knew. I'd never been in that type of a position before. I learned and I grew from it. That was my first experience being in a leadership position. I can remember my mom [Roxie Shannon Simpson] saying at graduation, right before I got ready to go line up, that when she sent me down here, she said, "When I sent you down here I just knew I was wasting my money." And I told her, I said, "Well I knew you were wasting your money too."$$That was gonna be one of my questions, who paid for you to go to college?$$Well, the first year my moth- my mom and my dad [Henry Simpson, Jr.], they, you know, combined their resources. But because I had become somewhat of a popular name, I started having parties. And the first party I had was in my backyard at my mother and father's house. It was free, about three hundred people came. Pretty large backyard. The next year, I charged a dollar. A thousand people came.$$A thousand people (laughter)?$$So then I said well, you know, maybe I'll try my hand at renting out--renting out some space. Borrowed some money from my dad to pay for the rental on the place, deejay, security. No advertisement, just word of mouth, and I did all of this in five days. And I think it made me about $3,500. Well that was enough money to pay back the money that I borrowed from my dad and go back and pay my tuition, as well as my rent because I moved off campus. Well I did this, this was right before Christmas, it was on December 26th. I'll never forget it. So that was enough to pay for my fall and my winter tuition. Well we got off of at spring break and I said well, you know, why don't I just have a party in the spring break, that week, to pay for my spring tuition. And that's what I did. So it paid for my spring tuition, paid my rent for the quarter, got out of sch- got out of school for the spring semester, I had one to get right out of school to pay for my summer school. I did that for the next three years and that's how I paid my tuition.$Let's go back to Stone Mountain High School [Stone Mountain, Georgia] and tell me what happens from there?$$Was feeling a need to make a change. And knew that--I had made my immediate supervisor aware of that and knew that there was going to be a change at the end of the year. They were already in the process of, you know, they had broke ground here and--but had not named a principal. They posted the position, I didn't apply. Because I--again, my ambitions weren't to really become a principal or, you know, be a principal any longer. But was pretty certain that I would have to get another school under my belt. My immediate supervisor shared with me that you--we want you to open up Miller Grove High School [Lithonia, Georgia]. And I looked at it as an opportunity to control my own destiny. You know, I get a chance to create a culture and a climate. I get a chance to hire everybody, every living, every working body in the school. And then I'd have the opportunity of doing something that very, very few administrators or principals are able to do, to say that they opened up a school, and to have that experience under my belt and to be able to place that on my resume. And you know, I mean it's insurmountable, something that, you know, only very few principals have been able to say that they've been able to do. And it's kind of known, it's the--it's an understanding in the field of education that if you've opened up a school, then obviously you were well thought of, because they don't pick any principal to open up a school. And then it being the largest, largest school in the history of the school system [DeKalb County School District]. This is--it was an opportunity and I jumped on it.$$Tell us, say the name of the school again please?$$Miller Grove High School. And, you know, things that I will be a part of I'd have never imagined. You know, creating the school crest, the naming of the school, selecting the school colors, the school alma mater, the mission--I mean the mission statement. I mean just--you know, everything that we've done has been first. You know, we made history. We've done--fifty years from now, my picture is gonna hop up as being the first principal somewhere. Why I don't realize it now, but that is the reality of it. It was a wonderful opportunity. I mean, it was--you know, to start out with ninth and tenth graders and create this, you know, and see it grow. I mean, I can remember standing right here and looking up and being able to see the sky. You know, and nothing outside, no walls and so that's my office right there as I rolled by. This was all dirt, you know. Picking the colors of the carpet and the furniture, and you know, having all of the intricate details strategically placed in the areas where I wanted them to go. And you know, going to Florida to seek out the best possible marquee. And you know, it's just an opportunity that--it was an opportunity that I would've--that I relished, that I know I can take anywhere else if I, you know, chose to go somewhere else.