By CRA News Service
Once a year, principals of several schools in Delray Beach get the day off while other local business leaders fill their shoes.
On Thursday, more than two dozen Principals for a Day sat in on classes, conducted assemblies and taught students.
After a crash course in running a public school, they converged at a town meeting at the Delray Beach Marriott and to share what they’d learned.
“It was so uplifting to me to see how enthused the kids were about learning,” said Kimba Williams, who shadowed Guarn Sims as principal at Village Academy.
Williams, founder and president of CollegePath inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting student so color getting to and through college, was most moved by reading to the 3-year-olds.
“You could just tell they were so excited to be in school,” she said. “They were so engaged and active. They wanted to ask and answer questions, all at the same time. There’s hope.”
Principal for a Day is part of the city’s Education Board yearly initiative. Nineteen local business leaders acted as principal for a day to promote partnership between schools and business in Delray. The program, in its 11th year, is called PENCIL, or Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning.
Proof of the program’s importance was made clear on Thursday. Relationships between the schools and leaders exist well beyond one day.
“What you saw today in the interactions on these campuses … that’s the piece that makes a difference, each and every day,” Cathy D’Amato, emcee of the meeting, told the attendees over lunch. “After you leave, you become our ambassadors, talking about Delray Beach and what you saw today.”
Evelyn Dobson, Delray Beach Community Land Trust executive director, served at Toussaint L’ouviture High School.
“I felt very good because I heard about some of the issues the kids face – peer pressure, family issues, living conditions – and I could share some encouraging words with them,” said Dobson, who told them that no matter how bad things were for them, if they are determined and work hard, they can achieve anything. “I was once a single parent and it really made me feel good because I felt that they got something from what I said.”
If asked, Dobson would welcome the opportunity to be principal again.
“Absolutely, I would do it again; I really enjoyed meeting the students and teachers,” she said. “This program is the perfect way for the private sector to get in touch with our Palm Beach County schools and our students. I gained a perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise had.”