Co-founders

Simon Hauger serves as the Workshop School’s principal. He is an engineer turned math and science teacher, and founder and director of the West Philly Hybrid X Team. His students have won multiple national competitions with the hybrid vehicles they designed and built, and reached the semifinals of the Progressive Automotive X-Prize in 2010. Simon’s work has been featured on CNN, PBS, Newsweek, and numerous other local and national publications.

Simon holds a BS in Engineering and an MS in Instruction from Drexel University, where he also earned principal certification. He also holds PA teaching certification in secondary mathematics and science.

Simon and his wife have three wonderful children. He drives a super fast biodiesel Jetta that was built by the team. He loves his family and his car.

Dr. Michael Clapper is a teacher at the Workshop School. He is a former Spencer/National Academy of Education post-doctoral fellow and an Assistant Professor of Education at St. Joseph’s University, where he worked with pre-service teachers at the undergraduate and graduate level. Prior to joining the faculty at SJU, Michael served as Chair of the social studies department at West Philadelphia High School, where he taught from 1997-2002.

A former school counselor, park ranger, and bike courier, Michael holds a BA in Psychology and Philosophy from Macalester College, an MA in history from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. He is certified as a Secondary Social Studies teacher.

Michael lives in West Philadelphia with his wife and two children. His whole family has taken on the quest to see just how many books and model trains a one-hundred year old Victorian can hold.

Dr. Matthew Riggan serves as the school’s Executive Director. He comes to the Workshop from the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied implementation of Common Core Standards, high school reform, organizational learning and formative assessment. Additionally, Matt serves on the Board of Directors of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Pennsylvania’s largest child advocacy organization; and YESPhilly, an agency serving out of school youth in Philadelphia.

Before coming to Penn, Matt worked for the West Philadelphia Partnership, where he directed community school programs in six sites providing after school, weekend and summer programs for children, youth and adults in the community. He holds a BA in African American Studies from Wesleyan University, and an MS and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

A Philadelphia native, Matt still lives in the city with his wife and two sons. To stay sane, he runs, skis, and tries to get outside as much as possible.

Dr. C. Aiden Downey is the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Division of Educational Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  A former Marine who served in Operation Desert Storm, Aiden left a career in pharmacy to teach science, first at Montclair Kimberly Academy and then at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School. These experiences piqued his interest in teaching and teachers, and in particular how to create a school that sustained and stimulated teachers and students. He returned to pursue his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in Education, Culture and Society, graduating in 2007.

After graduation, Aiden completed the Myer Horowitz Research Fellowship at the Center for Teacher Research and Development at the University of Alberta and then the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for Early-Career Scholars. He is currently working a book titled “The Shadow School,” an ethnography about teachers’ work and lives in a struggling inner-city high school. Dr. Downey holds a BS in Biology and Pharmacy from Philadelphia University of the Sciences and an MS and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also certified in Pennsylvania to teach Physical Science, Chemistry, Biology and Physics.

Aiden lives in Decatur, Georgia with his spouse, two children and two dogs.  He teaches classes at Emory on democratic teaching and learning, culture and social change.  He is currently pursuing a project involving the Highlander Folk School and working to help start a high school in Clarkston, Georgia, which has a large refugee resettlement community.  He is committed to learning how create democratically-driven schools that teach students to author their lives and change the world.  He enjoys kettlebells, gonzo gardening and poking fun at the three other founders.