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One-day principals get taste of running a school

Chamber event helps citizens experience school duties

The question Sandy Grade Principal Rachael George’s students asked her most often on Thursday, Oct. 22?

“Who’s that guy?”

“Well, he’s the principal,” was her reply, to which she’d get a stunned respond of, “But what about you?”POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Principal-for-a-Day Rob Stewart, who owns Red Boot Branding in Sandy, eats lunch with students and Sandy Grade Principal Rachael George on Thusday, Oct. 22.

On Thursday, the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce’s Career Education committee sent nine community members into Oregon Trail School District schools to serve as Principal-for-a-Day.

Rob Stewart, owner of Red Boot Branding in Sandy, spent his morning visiting classrooms, having lunch with PAWS award winners and even at one point sweeping Sandy Grade’s cafeteria floor.

He said the experience reminded him that his initial idea of principal — as the stony disciplinarian that you didn’t want to see during the school day — is no more.

“All the kids know her name and were coming up to give her a hug,” Stewart said of George during a luncheon following the morning’s events. “It’s a completely different way of teaching and bringing kids up in a community.”

While Stewart was experiencing the little ones of Sandy Grade, Waldon Hagan, Mt. Hood Community College vice president of Student Development and Services, spent his morning trying to navigate the massive halls of Sandy High School.POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Waldon Hagan, vice president for Student Development and Services at Mt. Hood Community College, walks the halls at Sandy High with vice principal Sally Tripp.

“First, I was taken by the expansiveness of the school,” Hagan said with a laugh.

Once he got used to the facility, Hagan sat in on a presentation of “Say Something,” a campaign by Sandy Hook Promise to help reduce violence among adolescents by urging students to report if they feel someone may hurt themselves or others.

Immediately following the serious conversation about how threats are often seen on social media, Hagan took part in a more lighthearted lesson. During a morning geometry class, he was approached by students engaged in learning the names of triangles by introducing themselves as either a right, acute or obtuse triangle.POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Waldon Hagan meets visits with students during a geometry lesson at Sandy High School during the Principal-for-a-Day event, Oct. 22.

But what stuck with Hagan the most following his morning at SHS was the many different hats he saw Principal Kim Ball wear as she went about her daily business.

“It was a wonderful, eye-opening experience of what principals do,” Hagan said.

Many of the other Principals-for-a-Day expressed similar sentiments.

“I learned to respect you guys a lot more,” said City Councilwoman Olga Gerberg after she shadowed Kelso Elementary School Principal Katie Schweitzer.

At the luncheon, Barb Clare, a member of the chamber’s Career Education committee, asked participants to share what they learned.POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Sandy Grade Principal Rachael George talks with Principal-for-a-Day Rob Stewart about the schools new playground on Thursday, Oct. 22.

“I think people get a lot out of this,” Clare said, adding her hope is that participants take what they learned back to their businesses and neighborhoods and let others know what a typical day is like for the hard-working staff Oregon Trail School District staff.

While George circled the cafeteria once more, greeting kids and solving problems, Stewart commented, “She’s got to be exhausted at the end of the day.”