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Guest Principals Learn Vital Lessons

About 200 guest principals shadowed Long Beach Unified School District principals during the recent Principal for a Day event, the largest single-day involvement of business and community leaders in local schools.

Serving as a Superintendent for a Day was Damon Dunn, who played football at Stanford University and in the NFL before building a successful real estate business.  He shadowed LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser, as did two other superintendents for a day: LBS Financial Credit Union President and CEO Jeff Napper; and Long Beach City College Superintendent and President Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

The guest superintendents joined business and community leaders at a State of Education debriefing at the Center Theater, where guest principals shared what they saw during their morning visits at schools.  The debriefing included performances by the Suzuki Strings from Stevenson Elementary School and the Poly High School String Quartet.

Dunn, the former NFL player, recently initiated and funded a Future Business Leaders Academy mentoring program for high school students here. 
As a child, Dunn faced difficult circumstances.  He was born to a 16-year-old mother, and when he was three years old, his father was killed.  Dunn then lost three of his closest friends to murder by the time he was 16.  He lived with 10 people in a three-bedroom trailer.  But he attended Stanford University and played in the NFL, eventually owning his own business and building its value to about $160 million.

The tenacious athlete and businessman praised LBUSD’s perseverance.

“One of the things I’ve always tried to evaluate in any organization – my company when I ran it, and particularly when I played in the NFL – is how you respond when you reach and face adverse circumstances,” Dunn said.  “Anyone can perform and keep high expectations when it’s a sunny juncture in your life and you have plentiful and bountiful resources.  And one of the things I’ve seen here, particularly today as I’ve been able to go out to a couple of the schools, is that there really is this element of ‘The Long Beach Way’ – that in spite of the lack of certain resources, expectations are high, they measure the results, and they have accountability measures in place.”

The annual Principal for a Day event allows business and community leaders to observe schools first-hand. More than 1,000 business partnerships with schools have begun as a result of the event.