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Principal for a Day event looks to greater understanding between community, schools

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Mineh Petrosian, the new executive director of the Glendale Educational Foundation, reads to first-graders at Horace Mann Elementary School during the 28th annual Glendale Educational Foundation’s Principal for a Day event in Glendale Unified on Tuesday.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

From a crash course in Japanese dual immersion to the value of continuing and improving education, 31 leaders from Glendale businesses, nonprofits and the city took part in the Glendale Educational Foundation’s 28th annual Principal for a Day event on Tuesday.

Guest administrators, who hailed from law firms, restaurants, aerospace companies and the city’s public safety departments toured Glendale Unified’s pre-, elementary, middle and high schools with their respective campus principals with the goal of becoming more familiar with community members.

“We learned quite a bit about each other,” said Lonny Root, principal of the district’s continuation school, Daily High School. “Hopefully, we made another ally in the city.”

Root introduced his students and campus, named a California Model Continuation High School in 2018, to Victoria Dochoghlian, a field representative for state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale).

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“I didn’t know much about Daily High School, but now I do,” Dochoghlian said. “My eyes have opened and to see how much dedication they put toward the kids is truly inspiring.”

It’s been a week of introductions for former Glendale YMCA senior director Mineh Petrosian.

On Monday, the Woodbury University graduate took over as executive director of the Glendale Educational Foundation.

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Glendale Educational Foundation’s new executive director Mineh Petrosian watches how classes run at Horace Mann Elementary School during the 28th annual Glendale Educational Foundation’s Principal for a Day event at the school on Tuesday.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

The next day, Petrosian was shaking hands with kindergartners at Horace Mann Elementary, where she read the children’s classic, “The Little Engine That Could” to 23 first-graders in Armenui Kzlyan’s class as they huddled and eagerly sat together.

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“I enjoy working with kids, and I’ve always looked up to my school principals, so it’s great to shadow a principal,” Petrosian said of Horace Mann principal Rosa Alonso.

In Betty Sorto’s transitional-kindergarten class, her students passed around a bright red heart and were asked to say something positive about a peer in a restorative justice circle.

In every Horace Mann classroom hangs a chart listing the school’s California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress scores, and there are displays of the the student body’s growth, along with areas of concern.

During the 2015-16 school year at Horace Mann, only 47% of students met or exceeded state standards in math and 57% in English.

Fast forward three years, and the school’s 2018-19 CAASPP scores have roughly 71.4% students meeting or exceeding state standards in math and, in English, 73.50%.

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Glendale Educational Foundation’s new executive director Mineh Petrosian looks over work that Stephan Simonyan is doing on a laptop, with Armen Karamyan at right, at Horace Mann Elementary School during the 28th annual Glendale Educational Foundation’s Principal for a Day event at the school in Glendale on Tuesday.
(Raul Roa/Glendale News-Press)

The figures are a source of pride for Alonso because they not only top the district’s average of 54.49% in math and 64.14% in English, but they were accomplished at a school with a large percentage of English learners and a school community in which 100% of students receive free lunches designated for low-income families.

“It’s all the teachers — the work, the love, the care, the dedication they have for students,” Alonso said. “I can’t take credit for this, and I have no problem saying I have the best teachers in this district.”

A reunion took place at Verdugo Woodlands Elementary as principal Kristina Provost hosted a former student, Glendale Police Officer Sharon Kim.

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The two were last together in 2003 when Provost was an English teacher at Clark Magnet High and Kim was graduating from the school.

“It was fun showing Officer Kim our campus, the [Japanese] dual-immersion program and some of the new facilities,” she said. “She even took part in a restorative practice with a kid who was in trouble.”

Kim said much has changed in the district since her time there more than a decade ago.

“I grew up in Glendale, and it’s great to see the improvements,” Kim said. “I can say this, too, I would have loved a dual-immersion program when I was in school, and I’m happy students now have access.”

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