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Leaders Volunteer As Principals for a Day

More than 180 business and community leaders became principals for a day recently at schools throughout the Long Beach Unified School District. Scientists, CEOs, lawyers, doctors and engineers shadowed real life principals. Journalists, actors, police officers, firefighters and restaurateurs attended faculty and budget meetings, taught a class or supervised lunch. The diverse mix of leaders from small and large businesses, non-profits and the public sector also gathered at an end-of-day debriefing at California State University, Long Beach to share their observations about life in California's third largest school system. "This is one of the biggest commitments of time and energy that the business community has given to our schools in a single day," said Mike Murray, board chairman of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. "We are coming together to listen, learn, and build lasting relationships with schools." Every school in the district, 89 sites in all, hosted at least one principal for a day. Some schools hosted up to three. Assignments began at 8 a.m. and continued until 2:30 p.m., when participants departed for the 3 to 5 p.m. debriefing at the university. At the debriefing, Boeing Company donated $65,000 to the Long Beach Education Partnership for its Seamless Education efforts. Seamless Education -- the nationally recognized collaboration between the school district, Long Beach City College and California State University, Long Beach -- coordinates curriculum and teacher training among the three institutions. Leaders from all three organizations participated in the debriefing along with local dignitaries. Other participants during the day included Long Beach Press-Telegram Publisher Jack Findley, Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison, Nickelodeon TV actor Ken Foree, and St. Mary Medical Center President Tomi Hadfield. "As a parent and as a citizen, this gives me the inside view of the issues facing students and administrators at our schools," Hadfield said. "But beyond that, it allows me to see if there are any unmet needs that I, in my position as president of the medical center, can help with." The school district last hosted a Principal for a Day event in 1997. The event was revived this year at the suggestion of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. "This is the first time our business organization has precipitated Principal for a Day," said Murray, event chairman. "Public schools are the region's largest source of future employees. This event will help businesses find out what's going on in education, so we can lend our expertise and resources." Already, local businesses support their public schools with more than 700 partnerships. "Time after time, our business community steps up to the plate for our students," said Carl Cohn, superintendent of schools. "This event takes that support to an even higher level. This is my ninth year as superintendent, and I'm still amazed at the community's willingness to help our students succeed."