Gresham-Barlow Opens Doors to New Principals... For a Day!

on Friday, December 04, 2015 Posted in Stories, Happenings, School Partnership Network

What's it like to be the Principal of a public school in today's culture? A small group of businessmen and community leaders, including Larry Whittlesey, Executive Director of SPN, had the opportunity to experience that role for themselves last month in the Gresham-Barlow School District. A number of school districts around the local community offer this type of unique exposure to invited leaders. The purpose of such gatherings is to build awareness of the unique challenges facing today's school districts as they seek to fulfill the mandate entrusted to them by the community.

The "Principal for the Day" program at Gresham-Barlow started with a light breakfast and briefing at Gresham City Hall. Superintendent Jim Schlachter gave an overview of what to expect and some of the current issues facing the district. The "new recruits" were then matched with their host Principals and left for their assigned locations.

Once onsite at their schools recruits toured the facilities, visited classrooms, discussed teaching strategies, and met with community partners. All of those involved pointed to personal interaction with students as the main highlight of the day—whether that was on the playground with the pre-schoolers, lunch room with the 5th graders, gym time with the middle schoolers, or chemistry lab with the high school students. As an added bonus, "Principals for the Day" and their permanent counterparts enjoyed one-on-one conversations about school funding, reading levels, graduation requirements, staff training, and a myriad of related subjects.

Late that afternoon, Principals and their recruits participated in a debriefing and reception back at City Hall. Each of those who served as "Principal for the Day" shared their thoughts and impressions of the day.

So why do the districts do this? The handout given to "recruits" at the Gresham-Barlow gathering clearly answered that question. "It is essential today to acknowledge the challenges of educating all students to the state's high performance goals, and to determine where the community can add strategic value to those efforts. Our goal is for Principal for a Day to be an important entry point for developing and sustaining meaningful partnerships between schools and our business and community partners."

The goal of SPN is to help our school districts build those strategic partnerships! Thanks to all those who are doing just that. And to all our "Principals for the Day" around the community for taking the time to see firsthand what our schools are doing!