Monday, April 12, 2010

Lessons Learned As Principal for a Day: Principal for a Day Brings Businesses and Schools Together

"Being a principal is far more today than what it used to be," commented Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks on a video presented at the December 2009 Principal for a Day Celebration Luncheon. "Just think about what all could happen in a day."

During last year's Principal for a Day, Gwinnett Technical College Executive Director of Institutional Advancement Mary Beth Byerly found out that just about anything can happen when you are a principal and for that reason you must be prepared for anything and everything.

On the morning of Mary Beth's day as principal at Sweetwater Middle School, the school's real principal, Georgann Eaton, armed Mary Beth with a slew of items, and explanations to go along with them, to prepare Mary Beth for her day. Those items included…a radio that is to be kept on at all times, a rather heavy necklace of keys because you never know when you will have to unlock a door, a flash drive because you never know when a student will just have to show you something, a list of emergency numbers just in case, and a name badge with the word of the day inside – the word of the day when Mary Beth served as principal was supplemental angles. And the list goes on…a Blackberry because there is important information that could be coming at any moment and finally, a clipboard because in education you have to have a clipboard. This clipboard also holds a very important piece of information – a calendar, but keep in mind that what is on this calendar may not be on your calendar when you are principal.

During her day as principal, Mary Beth wondered if perhaps she would be handed a pair of roller skates along with the rest of her newly acquired items. "Do I have roller skates, because I think I need them? This has been a busy day from the very beginning," Mary Beth commented midway through her day as principal. "I haven't slowed down and by the look of my calendar on my clipboard I don't think I will."

Being prepared for anything and everything when you are a principal was one of many lessons Mary Beth learned. Above all she, and the over 100 business and community leaders who participated in Principal for a Day, learned that in order to prepare Gwinnett's future workforce, the business community and the school system must work together.

Gwinnett's business and community leaders will again have the chance to experience being principal for a day during American Education Week, November 14 – 20, as the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce hosts Principal for a Day with Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS).

Principal for a Day, a joint venture of the Gwinnett County Board of Education and the Gwinnett Chamber, offers CEO-level business and community leaders the opportunity to get a firsthand, authentic look at the operations of today's schools and the principals who lead them. Those chosen to participate in the program, will experience GCPS's amazing leaders, outstanding teachers, and the sights and sounds of quality teaching and learning.

During American Education Week, a business leader is paired up with the principal at one of the participating Gwinnett County Public Schools, elementary through high school, where the CEO will shadow the principal.

Although Principal for a Day will not be held until November, the selection process is already beginning. If you would like the opportunity be considered for Principal for a Day, please contact Gail Macrenaris at 770-232-8803 or As this is a popular program with limited space availability, spots go fast! Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

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