Members of the Burbank business community took a turn as “Principal for a Day,” spending the morning of Wednesday, January 30, at each of the three high schools, three middle schools, 11 elementary schools and Community Day School in the Burbank Unified School District.
BUSD partnered with Burbank Business Partners to revive the Principal for a Day program, which last occurred during the 1990s.
“The goal of the program today, as it was then, is to allow community leaders to better understand the educational accomplishments and challenges in our schools,” commented volunteer program coordinator and retired BUSD teacher Linda Walmsley.
“Creating opportunities for collaboration to enhance all aspects of how the school district serves the youth and the community as a whole can serve to strengthen the educational programs that support the development of productive citizens in Burbank.”
Guest principals performed their duties at the school sites from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. All the participants then gathered at the Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library for a celebration luncheon, provided by Whole Foods and hosted by Superintendent Dr. Matt Hill and the Board of Education.
“The event was better than I could have imagined,” added Walmsley. “I was touched by the energy that each participant had for the time they were at the school sites.”
“The fact that everyone saw that the BUSD has quality programs and staff that work tirelessly to serve the children of Burbank supports the goal of the event to involve community leaders in solving financial problems that face the district and in supporting the continued excellence our schools have always had.”
“I have had lots of feedback from the participants,” Walmsley added. “Most have thanked me and have indicated that they want to become partners with the school they visited or with the district as a whole.
“Spending the morning with Principal Molly Hwang and her amazing team over at Walt Disney Elementary School was an absolute delight,” commented Anita Hutchinson, Chief Marketing Officer at UMe Credit Union. “They have a culture of joy and kindness and inclusion that shined through in all my interactions with both the staff and students alike.”
“One of my favorite take-aways was when one of the students explained their use of ‘I respectfully disagree’ when having a difference of opinion on something. What a beautiful way to teach our youth about how to have a conversation that might otherwise be difficult or negative. We can all learn to ‘respectfully disagree’ with one another.”
“Furthermore, I have made a personal pledge to get involved with Disney Elementary as a chaperone on field trips or when they need community members to come assist with reading to classes, etc.,” Hutchinson added.
“The visit to Emerson was absolutely illuminating,” said Kevin McCarney, founder and President of Poquito Mas. “I was so impressed by the commitment to communication techniques for our youngest students.”
“Hats off to Jennifer [Kaitz, Principal], and her team for creating a culture of cooperation that will last a lifetime,” he also said. “I believe that when you see the work being done at the schools you have to walk away with a sense of ‘how can I help.’ Truly remarkable achievements. I can’t wait to go back.”
“My time at Burroughs was absolutely fantastic!” commented Carol Granados, Director of Hospitality Services at Providence St Joseph Medical Center. “[Principal] Deborah Madrigal shared her amazing vision for education and showed me the wonderful programs that have been developed to encourage growth of students in the arts, technology and so many other fields.”
“The students were so respectful and engaged, truly wanting to be there to learn. I walked away so inspired by the work that is being done at this great school and look forward to my next opportunity to interact with Burbank school district.”
Leo Divinsky, Asset Manager for Worthe Real Estate Group said he had “an incredible time” at John Muir Middle School.
“In a short span of time, I was able to help kickoff a tri-school basketball tournament, witness children learning engineering and programming, performances from the show choir and music classes, exposure to a class focused on Japanese culture, a Shakespearean rehearsal, a meeting with the student body president and an opportunity to judge a pizza making contest.”
“I was extremely impressed by [Principal] Dr. Miller’s focus on continual improvement, a passionate faculty member in each class I visited along with a student body that looked both happy and engaged,” Divinsky added. “Furthermore, the use of vocabulary words on the back of P.E. uniforms and a collection of murals coupled with inspirational quotes from important historical figures bound at each end of a hall by a mural of young John Muir looking at an older version of himself at the opposite end was extremely innovative.”
“I also enjoyed seeing numerous murals of John Muir’s travels that beautify the campus along with an incredible outdoor classroom. I have always heard great things about Burbank schools, but my experience at John Muir exceeded all expectations. It was a great way to see the nexus of great teachers, innovative facilities and bright young minds at one of Burbank’s finest academic institutions.”
“My morning at Edison Elementary was a wonderful and eye opening experience,” commented Dave Aebersold, Store Team Leader at Whole Foods Market Burbank. “The hospitality of Principal Laura Flosi, her staff and student body was heartwarming.”
“I was given my personal parking space and welcomed to the school by the Edison Student Body Presidents. I was so impressed by their maturity, enthusiasm and passion for their school. I was also impressed how respectful the entire student body was and how they were all so engaged in the class room with their teachers.”
“My biggest take-away and enlightenment was how Laura’s job as a principal is very much like mine running a business,” Aebersold also said. “From being creative to make ends meet with such little support from the State, motivating and mentoring her wonderful staff, overseeing nearly 600 students and dealing with the parents of those students is an amazing feat that Laura clearly does extremely well. I was very honored to be a part of this day and hope to participate in the future.”
Lily LaRocco, VP of Technical Services at Warner Bros. Studio Facilities took some time to reflect on her experience at Monterey High School and Magnolia Park High School, two schools on the same site.
“I learned that Monterey is a second chance for most of the students and Magnolia Park is for troubled teens who suffer with depression, anxiety and other issues,” LaRocco explained. “I so enjoyed meeting the school Principal Ann Brooks, and the Assistant Principal David Guyer. They welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to speak to all of the individual classrooms.”
“I walked around to maybe 11 classrooms and told my story which was similar to what these kids are going through, but I was able to share my success,” she continued. “I felt I was able to connect, identify and reach some of the students.”
“As I toured the campus I was very impressed with how clean, organized, welcoming and nurturing this school was. The teachers are fantastic with the kids. I noticed a lot of productivity in each classroom.”
“There were some really great programs like a preschool on campus where some of the teen moms have children attending. I also noticed that they had a class which teaches them life skills. This is essential because most of these kids are probably not considering college, they’re going to go right out into the workforce.”
“It was awesome to see that they teach yoga classes and have a nice garden on campus. I also got to see the students working on calligraphy in art class. I found this really interesting, and the students were really good at it.”
“Overall this was such a rewarding experience and I’m very honored to be a part of ‘Principal for a Day.'” LaRocco added. “I certainly hope programs like this continue, and I will do my best to give back to the Burbank school community and spread the word to other industry professionals, so together we can make a difference.”