“What did you learn at school today?” It’s a question that most kids get asked every day as they get in the car or off the bus. “Nothing” is the usual reply.
On Thursday, Oct. 25, 42 participants in Principal for a Day at Cleveland ISD were asked that question and their response was much more than “nothing.” The Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and the turnout was overwhelming.
One of the goals for the Chamber Board of Directors this year was to create an Education Committee as a way to keep up with the surrounding school districts. Part of that committee’s tasks for 2018 was to initiate a Principal for a Day program, which is already a well-established program in surrounding chambers and school districts.
Victoria Good, secretary of the Board and Community Involvement Director at CBS Furniture, volunteered to steer the Education Committee and plan the event.
“I’m a homegrown graduate. I was born in Cleveland, went to all of the schools here, and I am now involved in businesses serving Cleveland. My family is here, my kids will grow up here, and we are committed to Cleveland. I am thrilled to be able to get all of these business and school leaders in the same room to talk about how we can improve the community and the futures of our students,” Good said at a luncheon with the participants at Texas Emergency Hospital.
Good worked closely with Susan Ard, CISD Communications Director, to assign business leaders with school administration, based on background and business interests. Initially, the program only included the principals and assistant principals from the seven Cleveland ISD campuses, but the committee ended up adding some additional positions just days before the event because the interest was so high.
“We had a total of 42 participants, including administration and business leaders. It was a great variety of business members, including local real estate and insurance agents, retail store managers, a Cleveland City Council member, and some of the area’s non-profit organization directors,” Good said.
These business members shadowed their assigned principals during the morning and learned about the ins and outs of a typical school day. The idea of the program is to increase the partnership between schools and the community, resulting in professional learning exchanges, career advice and job opportunities for students, mentoring programs, and industry and work experience visits.
At the luncheon, all of the participants had the opportunity to talk about their morning experiences. Most said the experience was eye-opening and they didn’t realize how much walking was involved.
Several participants emphasized the amount of steps the administrators take each morning, which is nothing compared to the amount of hugs and high fives they get from the students.
“You can see how much the kids love their principals,” said Waldo Rodas, 95.3 FM KORG radio, adding that he recalls how stern and unapproachable his elementary school principal seemed as a young child. Some even got emotional as they discussed the hardships that faculty and students face.
Jim Carson, COO of the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, shadowed Gina McClatchy at Cleveland High School. His biggest takeaway was how the district desperately needs bus drivers.
“They need a way to get the students to school,” he said.
One business member teared up as she recalled a moment that she witnessed at her assigned school. She gave her assigned principal-partner a hug and thanked her for kindness she showed a student during their time together.
The business leaders weren’t the only ones who were affected by the morning’s events. Javin Johnson, Eastside Elementary Administrator, commended his shadow, Kolton Purvis, the youngest business participant at age 20, for being interested in the program. He explained how encouraging it is to see young people get involved in education and being interested in mentoring students.
There were quite a few “Homegrown Graduates” who spoke at the luncheon, all sharing how meaningful it is to be involved with their alma mater, especially being able to do what they can to improve the schools and education. Several members shared ideas on mentoring programs and other ways their businesses and organizations can team up with the schools in the future.
The Chamber plans to host this event annually and include some of the other surrounding school districts in the future.