December 20, 2010

Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall was built to meet Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design (LEED) silver standards.

Housing programs that emphasize evidence-based learning, community partnerships and national policy leadership, the new Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall is where “the art of teaching and the science of teaching are truly melded,” says Dean David Chard.

Dedicated on September 24, the 41,000-square-foot Simmons Hall “is a place that will shape our future,” adds Chard, the Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

The light-filled building consolidates programs that were once spread across the Dallas and Plano campuses in 11 different locations. For the first time, the Departments of Teaching and Learning, Applied Physiology and Wellness, and Education Policy and Leadership, as well as the Master of Liberal Studies program, are assembled under one roof.

A landmark $20 million gift from Harold C. and Annette Caldwell Simmons in 2007 provided an endowment for the school and its new headquarters.

“My dream has come true,” says Mrs. Simmons ’57. “The education and research that take place here will make a real difference in educating the educators and promoting human fulfillment.”


Harold C. Simmons and Annette Caldwell Simmons with Nishon R. Evans. Mrs. Simmons taught Evans in 1958 when he was in the first grade in the Philippines.

Mrs. Simmons developed a lifelong interest in the education of youth while earning a B.S. degree in elementary education at SMU. She later taught first, second and third grades at Maple Lawn Elementary School in Dallas and at Clark Field, a U.S. air base in the Philippines.

A special guest at the dedication was Nishon R. Evans of Vienna, Virginia. Mrs. Simmons taught Evans in 1958 when he was in the first grade in the Philippines. He is now a certified public accountant with NJVC.

The Simmons gift also supports 10 Fairess Simmons Graduate Fellowships and the Leon Simmons Endowed Deanship and Faculty Recruitment Fund, named in honor of Harold Simmons’ parents. His father, Leon Simmons, was superintendent of schools in Golden, Texas, and his mother, Fairess Simmons, was a teacher.

Although education programs have long been part of SMU’s curriculum, the University renewed its commitment to the field in 2005 by creating the School of Education and Human Development.

Patricia Mathes, director of SMU’s Institute for Evidence-Based Education in the Simmons School, notes the University’s progress in the education of future teachers.

“I wanted to be an SMU undergraduate, but the University didn’t have my major,” Mathes recalls. “Now we have a school based on the science of education. When our graduates make decisions about how to teach and work with students, they’ll know what they’re doing.”

The Simmons School offers undergraduate, graduate and specialized programs for educators, as well as research programs that focus on how students learn and develop language skills. These programs include literacy training, bilingual education, English as a second language, gifted student education and learning therapy.