More than 200 guest principals from local business and community organizations caught a behind-the-scenes glimpse of local schools during a recent day of shadowing principals. Following a day at their school, the Principals for a Day gathered for a debriefing, where many described high quality education and signs of great progress in local schools.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, president of Long Beach City College, served as Superintendent for a Day.
“There is so much work going on in those schools, it’s amazing,” said Oakley, who hosted the debriefing at LBCC’s Liberal Arts Campus. “We must continue to support our school district in any way we can.”
Also participating was F. King Alexander, president of Cal State Long Beach, as the day focused on the seamless education partnership that is being strengthened among the school district, LBCC and the university. Alexander said California schools are significantly underfunded compared to those in other states, yet “our teachers are doing a remarkable job.”
Hundreds of business and education partnerships have begun through the annual Principal for a Day event, which is co-sponsored by the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Long Beach Unified School District and the Long Beach Education Foundation.
At last year’s Principal for a Day, local business and community leaders pledged $130,000 to fund tutoring for hundreds of local high school students who are struggling to become proficient in Algebra I. The pledges started with a $40,000 challenge grant from philanthropists Mike and Arline Walter.
This year’s debriefing featured testimonials from high school tutors who are assisting their peers while earning $9 an hour, thanks to last year’s donations.
“The kids really seem to like it, and for us as tutors it feels really good to help our peers and do what we can to help our school,” Wilson student Jordan Shefrin said.
Other guest principals also were impressed:
“The quality of education amazes me,” said Kathy Berry, community relations director at Community Hospital of Long Beach. She visited Millikan High School. “It makes me want to go back to high school again. It’s incredible what they’re doing with those smaller learning communities.”
“I was very impressed by the programs that they’re able to offer at the high school,” said Diane Dubois, a city council member in Lakewood. She toured Lakewood High School. “They’ve come a long way from four, five years ago. You have a lot of opportunities for kids – AP (Advanced Placement) and other opportunities.”
“I was pleased to go into every single classroom at Burroughs (Elementary School),” said Pat Towner of Boy Scouts of America. “You could hear a pin drop. Those teachers were teaching, and the students were listening.”
Chairing this year’s event were Ryan Alsop, director of Government and Public Affairs for Long Beach Water, and Shaun Lumachi, president of Chamber Advocacy.