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'Principal for a day'

Local leaders experience first hand the joys and challenges of school administration
by: Lisa K. Anderson As principal for a day at Sandy Grade School, Jason McNeil, Sandy Main Street program manager, spent four hours revisiting elementary school from an administrative perspective with Principal Kim Ball. One of his highlights was talking with four students who had saved up their

They witnessed a frog dissection, a flood and a fire alarm, recess, Mandarin Chinese class and field day planning.

Ten business and community leaders served as honorary principals Wednesday, April 18, at each school in the Oregon Trail School District and the superintendent's office.

For Angie Welty of Mt. Hood Athletic Club, the day at Naas Elementary was a return to her children's stomping grounds, while for Jason McNeil, Sandy Main Street program manager, visiting Sandy Grade was his first visit to an elementary school for many years, and the first one he experienced from an administrative perspective.

'She has her hands in everything,' McNeil said of Kim Ball, Sandy Grade's principal. 'She knows all the kids' names and family histories. I was really impressed by that.'

During his time with Ball, McNeil visited classrooms, dealt with disciplinary and attendance issues and dined with four very excited second-graders who had saved up their 'paw points,' or points earned for positive behavior, to eat lunch with their principal.

McNeil noted there were five students disappointed they'd have to wait until Friday for their lunch with Ball.

The four lucky students able to dine Wednesday spoke with Ball and McNeil about the upcoming field day at Sandy Grade and told the two about their lives outside the classroom. One of the students' favorite ideas for field day was to hold a bungee jumping contest.

While bungee jumping didn't make the cut, Ball wrote down many of the students' ideas, telling them to keep them fun, practical and safe.

'That was an awesome lunch time,' she said to the students as their lunch time drew to a close. 'Thank you very much!'

Along with the fun parts of his experience, McNeil noted the challenges schools and educators face, especially when students are struggling outside of the classroom.

Mitch Speck, interim executive director of the chamber, underscored how important it is for business and community leaders to partner with schools, offer support and act as cheerleaders.

The principal-for-a-day program is sponsored by the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce Career Education Committee and the Oregon Trail School District and offers community members the chance to experience the opportunities and challenges of managing a school.

Beginning with a breakfast briefing on educational issues, the day continued with honorary principals spending about four hours at the schools, and debriefing their experiences over lunch.