Local schools invite business owners to be principals for a day
INDUSTRY - Think running a business is challenging? Try running a school for a day.
That is the offer being made to a few dozen brave souls, who will take a shot later this month at being principals for a day and learn how to run a local school campus.
For more than 25 years, Rowland, Bassett and Hacienda La Puente Unified school districts, along with the La Puente Valley Regional Occupational Program, have partnered with local businesses to raise scholarship funds for students through the annual "Principal for a Day" program.
The March 22 event - which has raised about $200,000 in scholarship funds since the program's inception - also gives business owners a first-hand glimpse of what it's like to be the head honcho of a school.
"Kids come in with a bloody nose or there's issues with the family or you're promoting core values. You're the cheerleader and the sympathetic listener," long-time participant Ann Marie Smith said.
"The concept of having community members and business owners come in and walk in the shoes of a principal for a day to me helps them relate to what goes on in a school ... and all the responsibilities and all the different hats that principals have to wear," continued Smith, who owns a small business.
Between 75 and 100 guest principals will each tour an elementary, intermediate or high school in the communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, La Puente, Industry, Walnut, West Covina and
"We try to match up the desire and interest of the principal," Rowland Unified spokeswoman Gina Ward said. "They get an intense look at the school. They get to meet the staff and get to see what makes that school special."
The program - which annually raises between $8,000 and $10,000 in scholarship funds for 14 high school students - culminates in an awards luncheon at the Industry Hills Expo Center, 16200 Temple Ave., where this year's speaker will be Sen. Ed Hernandez.
"I like the idea that it, first of all, exposes the schools throughout our area ... to the business community and gets them involved in visiting a school and see what is happening on our school campus today," said Don Sachs, Executive Director of the Industry Manufacturers Council and the event's MC.
About 300 business members, community leaders and students will gather at the luncheon, providing a good networking opportunity for the high schoolers.
"To take a person that might be a banker... and put them in a school where they're walking into classrooms and talking to young people, it's a different comfort level for them," Sachs said. "It's an opportunity for those old dinosaurs like me to see the young people of today and what they're capable of."
Former Sunkist Elementary Principal Bob Watanabe, who organized the event before retiring two years ago, said he is happy to see that the program has grown over the years.
"We just wanted to make this event really eye-opening to the community to show how important it is that you cannot have a good school without a good leader and without good leadership you can forget about having a good school," he said.
For information on how to become a corporate sponsor or be a guest "Principal for a Day" at a local school, call Lee Cavanaugh at 626-854-8303.
626-962-8811, ext. 2446