18 local leaders got the opportunity to see how MCISD campus leaders create quality learning environments for their students.
This Tues. Oct. 8, 2019, several business and community leaders were able to participate in the Mission Consolidated Independent School District’s annual Principal for a Day program, which has been ongoing since 2006. In honor of National Principals Month, and taking place during National Principal Shadowing Week, they joined principals at every campus during the day.
The members from the community were able to shadow the principals through their regular duties, receiving an education on the rewards and rigors of working for the district in that capacity. Culminating in a luncheon at the Mission Chamber of Commerce, participants gathered to discuss their days and what they took away from the experience.
Craig Verley, the MCISD Director of Public Relations and Marketing, spoke about the initial reservations from staff when the program was introduced 13 years ago.
“The first year we did this, I still remember at the time the principals were very nervous about it,” Verley said. “‘What if something goes wrong? What if this happens, what if that happens?’ And our response was: that’s okay. The participant will see how you respond to the situation.”
Verley said that some years during Principal for a Day included these situations – mostly lock-ins and things of that nature.
“It’s always interesting to hear from those participants at the end of the say,” Verley said. “Every year we open these doors up for our business and community leaders to get an inside view of what goes on in our schools, and just what the job of principal is kind of like.”
Superintendent Carol Perez thanked the participants for taking part in the educational process for the children at MCISD.
“We really hope you take away something from today, and that is that the most precious commodity we have is our children,” Perez said. “It has been said that the mark of the community is how well it treats its children. And to us, they are our number one priority.”
Perez said principals are there to serve the MCISD client base: students, parents, community and staff.
“They are our unsung heroes,” Perez said.
Board member Petra Ramirez spoke on the quality of principals employed at MCISD.
“[They] got to see a little bit of what our school district is doing in our schools, and we have very very passionate principals,” Ramirez said. “They’re amazing – that’s why we’re Mission CISD.”
Following the lunch portion of the program, each participant was presented with a token of the district’s appreciation – a glass apple paperweight along with a certification of their principalship. They were also able to speak on their experiences with the entire group present.
Mission Historical Museum Director Cynthia Stojanovic was principal for a day at Bryan Elementary School, which is actually her alma mater. She was proud to proclaim that “once a Bryan Bear, always a Bryan Bear.”
“Not only was this an opportunity to get an in-depth, an inside look into how our schools are run, but also to provide great examples for ourselves,” Stojanovic said. “Mrs. Sanchez [the principal at Bryan Elem.] is a great administrator, and she really showed me how to multitask – she was able to be successful in all the things she handles in one day. So it’s a great example for myself – as a director – to have a mentor and someone to look up to.”
Lance Ames, the Chief Executive Officer for the Edinburg Children’s Hospital, acted as principal for Ollie O’Grady Elementary School. He said he had a fun day, and noted that his favorite tool he learned from the day was an attention puller: when a teacher says “eyes on me,” and the students respond with “eyes on you.”
“Overall I was just very impressed – working in the hospital setting and working in a school is very similar: you have hundreds of people you’re trying to bring together, keep under control, lift and develop,” Ames said. “Angie Garcia [the principal at O’Grady Elem.] does a phenomenal job trying to make sure that every classroom and every teacher is consistent in creating an incredible experience.”
Jo Anne Longoria, the Community Development Director for the city of Mission, was principal for the day at Pearson Elementary School. Longoria said she was impressed with Melissa Davis, the principal.
“[Davis] and her assistant principal compliment each other, they know their students very well,” Longoria said. “They know their teachers very well, and I was impressed with the Smart Boards – it was nice to see how the students were interacting and engaging in the lesson.”
Marie Garcia, the public relations manager for SAM Engineering and Surveying, Inc., acted as principal for Veterans Memorial High School. She said she was not nervous to take part in this program, but excited.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Garcia said. “When you’re looking at students, you want them to be successful, I was impressed with the culture, I was impressed with all the different curriculums you have now.”
At the end of the luncheon, Verley returned to the microphone to encourage everyone to spread the word about the success that occurs at MCISD.
“I am personally very proud of what goes on in each of our schools every single day,” Verley said. “I do have one homework assignment for our participants: don’t just remember what you’ve experienced today, share it. Share it with your friends, your family members, your coworkers. When you hear someone who says something bad about public schools, you now know better. Let them know what you’ve seen.”
This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 11, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.