Being Principal for a Day

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by J. Alvin Wilbanks

During one week in November, 132 Gwinnett County business and civic leaders will go from being “People to Know” to being “people IN the know” as they participate in the 11th annual Principal for a Day Program. A joint venture of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Gwinnett County Public Schools, Principal for a Day was launched in 2004 to bring business and school leaders together for an authentic, up-close look at the rewards and challenges of being a modern-day school principal.

No dog-and-pony shows here. Principal for a Day allows the business leader/principal to engage in a school day that is as close to routine as possible. Observing in classrooms, meeting with teachers or parent groups, learning about the school budget, reviewing student achievement data and initiatives, even supervising in the cafeteria and bus lanes… it’s all in a day’s work for the principals for a day. They come away from their experience with a new perspective about – and heightened appreciation for – the work of leading a large public school. Lasting relationships develop between many schools and companies, and leader-to-leader friendships emerge. Who ultimately benefits most? Students, of course!

During American Education Week 2014, Principal for a Day activities will be happening all over the county thanks to the business, governmental, and civic leaders who are giving their time to participate. Past Principals for a Day tell us it is an experience that is enlightening and rewarding in unimagined ways. The dividends the program has paid over the first decade have been significant. Participants from both worlds get to know each other and come to better understand the similarities in their jobs, as well as the differences. They also see in tangible ways the correlation between excellent schools and our county’s economic strength.

The school district is proud to partner with the Chamber on an endeavor that has been so well-received by both the business participants and educators, and makes a difference for students. We are excited about the second decade of Principal for a Day and producing more “people in the know” among the “people to know” in our great community!

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