It all starts with Literacy.

Principal for a Day


By Jane Schonberger, Program Ambassador

What do “So You Think You Can Dance” judge and “American Idol” executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe, and I have in common? We were both invited to participate in the Santa Ana Unified School District annual “Principal for a Day” event, along with a host of other regional celebrities!

Each of the district’s 56 schools hosted a guest principal to provide members of the community an opportunity to experience the daily operation of a school campus. I have worked with many of the district’s elementary schools as a Program Ambassador for TutorMate – an online nonprofit literacy program known well to readers of this blog. At Garfield Elementary, where I became “Principal for a Day,” all five first grade classrooms participate in TutorMate, which connects students and volunteer tutors online for 30 minutes per week to improve reading skills. The tutors work at local corporations (such as Boeing, Google and PIMCO) and are encouraged to participate by management.

When I arrived, the school’s “News Team”, a group of savvy 10-year-olds, welcomed and introduced me to the entire building over the loudspeaker. Throughout the day, I shadowed Kasey Klappenback, Garfield’s “real” principal as he made his rounds. Mr. K. has an amazing rapport with each of the almost 800 students who he greets by name along with an encouraging word or pat on the back.

Walking the halls, visiting the various classrooms and the playground, I observed committed teachers and eager students. My visit was a striking reminder that the classroom is where students from all backgrounds can come together and learn as equals. These students are our future, and witnessing their educational journey first-hand was a great reminder of why we invest so much energy in helping them achieve success.

Thanks Santa Ana Unified, Garfield Elementary, Orange County United Way and TutorMate for allowing me to be part of such an awesome experience and for reminding me what a hopeful educational narrative looks like in our community.

One Response to “Principal for a Day”

June 01, 2017 at 9:54 pm, Lucinda Pueblos said:

Thank you for supporting SAUSD!!


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