Taking on a principal task

As Ernestine Moore, the district director for State Sen. Jack Scott, toured Daily High School and other Glendale Unified School District schools on Thursday, she was impressed by the extent to which the school district caters to the needs of specific groups of students.

She visited AdvancePath Academy, a program for students who are in danger of dropping out of high school, and Verdugo Academy, an independent study program for students who can’t attend high school during traditional daytime hours.

“They really tried to find a program that was appropriate for every kind of student,” Moore said.

Moore took a few hours away from her day job on Thursday to shadow Sherry Stockhamer, the principal of Daily High and the head of AdvancePath Academy and Verdugo Academy, during the school district’s “Principal for a Day” program.

It’s the 16th year the school district has held the program, which brings business and community leaders into the school to walk in principals’ shoes for a day.

“It gives the community people a window into modern education,” said Susan Hunt, the school district’s coordinator of employment development and business partnerships.

Twenty-eight guest principals spent the morning observing principals at work in elementary, middle and high schools around the district, and then convened to share their experiences over lunch.

Many of the guest principals emerged from their school visits comparing the job of a principal to that of a chief executive, Supt. Michael Escalante said.

Between working with students, teachers, parents and budgets, being a principal, like being a CEO, is a complicated management position, Escalante said.

Rosemary Montana, who runs a human resources consulting business in Glendale, spent the morning with Principal Janice Hanada at Cerritos Elementary School.

Montana followed Hanada as she sat in on teachers’ classrooms and evaluated their lessons, held a ceremony to recognize Student of the Month honorees and met with parents.

The amount of juggling of disparate tasks Hanada did, while still being a compassionate leader, was amazing, Montana said.

“I’m certainly going to be a much more vocal supporter of the school system, not that I wasn’t,” Montana said.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich spent the day at Rosemont Middle School, and he was impressed with the care students and staff took with the school facilities and how clean and neat everything was.

“Rosemont is a sparkling example of good citizenship,” he said.

From the principals’ perspective, bringing outsiders in to see the hard work being done in schools provides validation for students and educators, Stockhamer said.

“We see it with outside eyes,” she said.

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