• Principal for a Day

     
    On October 28, Partners In Education held its first Principal for a Day event since 2009. Twenty-six community and business leaders were partnered with twenty-six campus principals for the morning. Following was a lunch held at the Ed Center sponsored by Olive Garden. The luncheon allowed for both business/community leaders and principals to reflect on their mornings and experiences.
     

    Principals for a Day Speak Out

    Being Principal for a Day is an eye-opener, say community members

     

    When United Regional employee Andrea Anderle visited Brook Village Wednesday to be its Principal for a Day, she realized she had forgotten how much energy 3- and 4-year-olds bring to the classroom – and how much energy their teachers must have to teach them.

     “And teachers have to have a calm in the midst of that energy,” she said.

    The morning at the Brook Village Early Childcare Center was punctuated by one 5-year-old child’s seizure. The child was whisked by ambulance to the hospital. The event didn’t faze the hospital employee and was calmly handled by the real Brook Village Principal Christy Henry. “That’s like everyday for me,” said Ms. Anderle of the health crisis.

    But what did surprise her was when a 5-year-old boy saw her visiting his classroom and graciously offered her a seat. “Ma’am,” he said, “take my chair.”

    Ms. Anderle was one of 25 community members who agreed to serve as Principal for a Day at one of the district’s 29 campuses. The Principal for a Day event, hosted by WFISD’s Partners in Education, was resurrected this year after a six-year hiatus.

    The event allows community members to see and learn about the inner workings of WFISD schools, if only for a morning. The group of volunteers then rendezvoused for a lunch at the Education Center and shared what they learned from their morning spent walking the halls as a principal.

    Midwestern State University attorney Barry Macha followed Fowler Elementary Principal Jeff Hill on his morning duties and was surprised by several things he saw.

    Not only did students interact with Mr. Hill, he interacted with them, calling students by name.

    He was also fascinated to see kindergarteners working on Chrome Books. “That was really impressive,” he said. The digital connection allowed teachers to give instant help and track which students needed help in which areas.

    He watched students stand at their classroom’s interactive white board and answer questions on the board. “I was stunned. I’m thinking kindergarten: I’d see chaos. There were 18 to 20 kids, and they were all focused, actively participating. It was not staged or anything,” said Mr. Macha.

    Wichita County Sheriff David Duke followed Washington/Jackson Principal Stephanie Phillips around her hallways.

    He told the group later that he was shocked that she knew every name of every child who walked through the school’s front door. “She interacted with every one of them,” he said.

    Then she told him that they would visit the school’s kindergarten classroom. “We were going to kindergarten,” said Sheriff Duke. “I thought, ‘OK, this will be like a Saturday afternoon at Chuck E Cheese’s.’”

    Instead, he observed children having fun, working at specific tasks, and respectful. “It was the coolest thing in the world,” he said.

    He even picked up a discipline tactic called “Improving Behavior” used at the school to reward good behavior. “I’m going to take that back to the jail house,” he said.

     Zundy

     Zundy Principal Shane Porter stands with Principal for a Day Jim Cadotte after making rounds at Zundy Elementary on Oct. 28.
     
      
    Jim Cadotte, manager of All American Super Car Wash, shadowed Zundy Elementary Principal Shane Porter during his Principal for a Day stint. “All the kids know her, and she knows all the kids by name,” he said.

    In a sixth-grade class, the two saw a student crying “real tears,” said Mr. Cadotte, over a math problem.

    “What’s the matter?” asked Ms. Porter.

    “I just don’t get it,” said the sixth-grade girl.

    So Mr. Cadotte watched as Ms. Porter sat down at the table with the girl for 10 minutes and helped her work the problem, then another one similar to it.

    “Her whole demeanor turned around,” said Mr. Cadotte. He watched as Ms. Porter made a note to herself that the girl also needed paper, a pencil and a notebook – then remembered to set them aside when she reached her office.  “She didn’t forget,” he said.

    After that, she listened to a student rail that he wouldn’t have a costume at Halloween.

    “What do you want to be?” she asked.

    “A soccer player!” he said.

    “I think I can take care of that,” she said.

    Mr.Cadotte said he observed Ms. Porter instilling students with hope. “This is where they learn they can rise above the challenges they face,” he said. “Thank all of you in the education field.”

    For her part, Ms. Porter said it seemed unusual that all her students were “really well behaved today.”

    Mr. Cadotte joked that she should always have a 6’5” companion walking behind her every day, as he did Wednesday.

     

    Olive Garden’s Sal Ramirez generously provided lunch for WFISD’s real principals and their Principals for a Day cohorts. The Principal for a Day program is designed to build partnerships with local businesses and create awareness about WFISD schools.