Community leaders step in as ‘Principal for a Day’

For one morning every year since 1991, the Glendale Unified School District has invited community and business leaders to be “Principal for a Day” throughout the city’s public school system.

This year’s program, which was held Tuesday and is sponsored by the Glendale Educational Foundation, gave visitors a sample of what it’s like to manage a school campus and asked them to compare their own leadership practices with what they experienced during a luncheon later in the day.

Some of the guest principals this year included Glendale Mayor Vartan Gharpetian, who was at Glendale High, City Councilman Zareh Sinanyan, who visited Mark Keppel Elementary, and state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who was at Hoover High.

Nina Crowe, director of fund development for Glendale Arts, shadowed Jay Schwartz, principal of both College View School and its sister campus, Pacific Avenue Eduction Center. Glendale Arts manages the Alex Theatre.

College View serves students who are 2 to 22 years old with severe learning and physical disabilities.

Pacific Avenue is a multiuse site that houses several Glendale Unified programs such as an early-education preschool, child care for students attending Edison Elementary and community-transition services for young adults with special needs.

Crowe began the morning at College View, where she learned how teachers’ aides communicate with parents in a nonjudgmental way, greeted children exiting the school bus and participated in a lockdown drill.

“I took away that it takes a special person to care for our kids. We trust them during the day with our kids,” Crowe said. “It also takes another type of special person to be an administrator, requiring a whole extra skill set.”

At Pacific Avenue, Crowe stopped in a young-adult classroom for a chat with students who were learning about cooking, grocery shopping and money management. She also visited the preschool.

Although Crowe said she’s not ready to drop everything and become a principal just yet, she said the role of leading children is critical to education.

At noon, guest principals gathered for a luncheon in the school district’s boardroom, where they shared their personal management styles in the public and private sectors.

“In fundraising for Glendale Arts, most people are generous, and they want to donate … and I help them get there and discover that,” Crowe said. “I think it’s similar with being a principal. She empowers the teachers and the aides to be able to succeed on their own.”

jeff.landa@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeffLanda

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