November 30, 2007
More than 200 business and community leaders participated in the recent Principal for a Day event, shadowing school principals and sharing their impressions of the Long Beach Unified School District.
Serving as superintendents for a day were local philanthropists Mike and Arline Walter. They shadowed Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser.
“We had an absolutely marvelous day,” Mike Walter told an audience of more than 400 at an end-of-day gathering of guest principals and educators. “Principal for a Day brings together the very best in our community to recognize one of the best K-12 education systems in the world.”
The Walters visited Webster Elementary School, where they were accompanied by fellow guest principal Brian Russell, vice president of Blair Commercial Real Estate. Each of the Webster visitors said they were impressed with students’ efforts to master multiple languages at a young age.
“I saw students using English, Spanish, Japanese and sign language – all in one classroom,” Russell said. “What a tremendous story at Webster. I saw a fourth grader who last year got 11 of 70 questions correct on his math proficiency test. Now he’s at 70 out of 70. What a great environment. The teachers make certain that all students are engaged and learning, and Kevin Maddox, the principal, is doing a great job.”
Visiting Wilson Classical High School was Matt Kinley, managing partner of the Tredway, Lumsdaine & Doyle law firm. He said he was impressed with the school and its faculty.
“We saw a pep rally for the water polo team. It was good to see all four thousand kids in the quad. It was very orderly. Principal Lew Kerns is a great guy, a great communicator. He really cares about the kids.”
Jefferson Middle School’s guest principal, Dan Rosenfeld, a community relations representative with Long Beach Transit, participates each year.
“I’m always impressed with how well run the schools are, and with the diversity of teaching techniques,” Rosenfeld said.
Visiting International Elementary School was Mike Asfall, industrial specialist with the space and missiles program for the Defense Contract Management Agency.
“I live a block away from International and have always been impressed with it,” Asfall said. “Now that I had a chance to visit classrooms, I’m even more impressed. Obviously the principal and the teachers are making a big difference for kids.”
At Jordan High School, community volunteer Donita Van Horik saw the new Architecture, Construction and Engineering Academy, visited International Baccalaureate classes and met with several students.
“I thought the kids were a lot more energetic than I expected,” Van Horik said. “I was also impressed with the staff. There’s a lot of longevity there.”
Linda Nunez, a Poly High School graduate who now works as a news anchor for KNX Newsradio, visited her alma mater for the first time in 24 years.
“The different academies they have at Poly are wonderful,” Nunez said. “We didn’t have all of that at Poly when I was there. I told the kids that the education they get at Poly is something they will use in every aspect of their life. They need to take advantage of the opportunities they have at Poly because they won’t find them anywhere else.”
Cabrillo High School’s guest principal was Tom Good, president of Matson Navigation Co., which donated $2,500 at the Principal for a Day event to help fund algebra tutoring for high school students.
“I was extremely impressed with the enthusiasm of students and staff,” Good said. “After seeing what I saw today at Cabrillo, I’m very encouraged for our future.”
A special broadcast of the Principal for a Day debriefing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today through Sunday on ed.tv (cable channels 24 in Long Beach and 35 in Lakewood).