'Principal for a Day' Showcases Wisdom
Principal for a Day Showcases Wisdom
Community members learn that running a school is more than taking attendance and giving grades
WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt told community members who volunteered on Principal for a Day about the district’s latest initiatives.
KAUZ account executive Marissa Tucker learned an unexpected lesson when she tagged along with Zundy Principal Shane Porter as her Principal for a Day.
Principal for a Day is a biannual WFISD event that gives community members a rare, intimate look inside a typical school day from the principal’s perspective. Twenty-four community members shadowed WFISD principals on the morning of Oct. 26, then met up for lunch to share what they observed.
The day is designed to educate community members about the challenges WFISD faces so they can be informal, positive ambassadors for the school district.
Ms. Tucker always knew how much passion it takes to be a teacher, but on Wednesday, she learned how much wisdom it takes, too.
At Zundy, sobs turn to smiles
After making the rounds to classrooms, Ms. Tucker observed Zundy Principal Shane Porter sit down with a fourth-grade boy who was sobbing so hard he could hardly breathe. It turns out his class was putting on a play, and he had wanted the role of police officer, but it had gone to someone else.
He cried as if his world were coming to an end and was sent to the principal’s office to calm down.
Through sobs, he explained to Ms. Porter that being a cop was the most important job on the planet, and that’s what he wanted to be when he grew up.
Meanwhile, Ms. Tucker – as honorary Principal for a Day – observed quietly and asked herself, “How would I handle this?”
She watched as Ms. Porter waited until the fourth-grader was calm enough to hear her.
She asked him if he thought a police officer would cry if he isn’t given the assignment he wanted one day. “We can’t always get our way,” she said. “But right now, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 10:14 a.m., your training to be a cop starts right now.”
The little boy perked up. He wiped his eyes. He liked the sound of that. “OK!” he said.
Ms. Tucker was impressed. “It was a great experience,” she said.
A Jefferson non-welcome
At Jefferson Elementary, Champions Clinic’s Brint Richter shadowed Principal Peter Braveboy. But he admitted to the group of Principals for a Day that his experience was probably different than most.
“The kids were probably excited to see you. Not for me,” he said. “There were tears. I think when I was introduced as Principal for the Day, they thought that Mr. Braveboy was actually being replaced.”
Even Mr. Braveboy’s daughter scowled and pointed at him. “She hugged me later,” he added. The students were so quiet throughout the school that he focused more on the teaching techniques of teachers, he said.
“It says a lot about Mr. Braveboy and how he’s got his staff,” said Mr. Richter. “I learned a lot of great ideas. That dude right there is awesome. His kids love him, and his teachers do, too.”
Hirschi, 38 years later
For Wichita Falls Police Chief Manuel Borrego, his Principal for a Day stint at Hirschi High School was a walk back in time.
Chief Borrego, a 1978 graduate, attended Hirschi. “I walked into a lot of classrooms. The teachers were very engaged with the students,” he said. “I certainly wished I had all that technology. It’s great to see that.”
The return to his alma mater was enjoyable—but a wake-up call, too. “There is a huge need for new schools,” he said. “The technology is there. The teachers are there. But it’s really not fair to our kids if we don’t have nice facilities.”
Going to Plan B at Haynes Northwest Academy
Advantage Realtor Dee Ann Martin was initially disappointed when she learned that the principal she would shadow, Haynes’ Dee Dee Forney, was sick. But she was soon walking in the experienced footsteps of Assistant Principal Cindy Underwood.
“She was absolutely a delight,” said Mrs. Martin. “There is so much more to teaching from the books that I saw at Haynes today.”
As Ms. Underwood introduced her to the children, they put their hands out, looked her in the eye, and spoke their names. “To me, that was a wonderful thing. We don’t see this in the homes a lot. It’s exciting to see that they’re teaching social skills. It’s a small school, but they’re doing a wonderful job.”
Southern Hills drill
At Southern Hills, Principal for a Day Travis Haggard was surprised by the active shooter drill that students and staff participated in while he was there. As a Nebraskan, the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce employee grew up with tornado drills -- not active shooter drills. "Fortunately (Southern Hills Principal Naomi Alejandro) briefed me, but it terrified me to be part of that," he said.
He also observed Ms. Alejandro solving several disciplinary issues. "I wish Ms. Alejandro could go to every parent's house and give a five-minute lesson on how to walk a child through a disciplinary issue," he said.
As part of the Principal for a Day luncheon, WFISD Superintendent Mike Kuhrt briefed the group on the district’s latest news – the completion of building projects at McNiel and Barwise Middle Schools, construction progress at the Career Education Center – and new initiatives, like a long-range facilities plan and an application for a new designation called the District of Innovation.
“We know that we have to tell our story, and we want to make sure as many people as possible hear it,” he said.
He also took questions from the crowd.
Mrs. Martin was quick to respond. “For those of us who had a great experience, sometimes we see needs within the schools. Is there a clearing house where we can help find resources for things that are needed but not budgeted?”
Helping financially through PIE
Mr. Kuhrt referred her to the district’s Partners In Education program, which sponsored the Principal for a Day event and links businesses with schools to meet special needs all year long. Any community-based group is welcome to make an impact on a local school by working through PIE, he said. Monetary donations and in-kind gifts totaled $2.8 million last year, with volunteers investing more than 19,000 hours in its Read 2 Learn remedial reading program.
WFISD holds a Principal for a Day event every spring and fall. To volunteer to participate in the spring event, you may call January Jones at (940)235-1000, ext. 10019.