"Principals For A Day"
See Schools In ActionPosted by Josh Flory on 11/19/2019
Suzanne Bauknight has plenty of experience managing a courtroom, but this week she got to help manage a classroom.
Bauknight, who serves as a federal bankruptcy judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee, was one of approximately 100 people who participated in the KCS Principal For A Day event on Tuesday morning.
Elected officials, business leaders, non-profit executives and others visited district schools where they toured classrooms, met with teachers and watched principals go about their daily routine. After the tours, participants gathered at The Foundry on World’s Fair to give their impressions and share ideas.
The goal of the annual event is to raise awareness of the work done by teachers, administrators and school staff, while also giving community partners a sense of how they can support schools and address needs within KCS.
Bauknight had two daughters that attended Powell Middle School, so she was already familiar with the campus. But while touring with Principal Beth Howard, she got to see teaching and learning up-close, and even got to participate in classroom discussions.
During a visit to Donna Jett’s 8th-grade Social Studies class, the judge jumped into a discussion about elections. After soliciting input from students about how voters can be informed about issues and candidates, she urged them to always seek out news from multiple perspectives, and to engage the political process with civility.
“Be respectful in your listening and in your speaking,” Bauknight said. “We call that civility, and we need to do more of that.”
While the work of teaching and learning still hits the traditional high points like math, social studies and English Language Arts, several Principals For A Day highlighted aspects of education that were less familiar to them.
During the lunch meeting, guests remarked about the focus on addressing students’ social and emotional needs, as well as the wide range of curriculum areas, including CTE courses, STEM education and opportunities to earn college credit while attending high school.
Justin Bailey, of Bailey & Co. Real Estate, visited Powell Elementary School -- his alma mater -- and said he was impressed by a secretary who welcomed a student by saying “we’re just so glad we got to see you today.”
Bailey compared interactions like that one to “deposits” in an account that tells students “You matter.” “It was so impressive to me,” he added.
For at least one participant, the event was a chance to catch up with an old teacher. John Thurman, an architect and vice president with McCarty Holsaple McCarty, toured Fulton High School whose principal, Seth Smith, years ago was Thurman’s world history teacher at Farragut High School.
Thurman and Alison Coe, the news director at WATE-Channel 6, got to visit with Fulton’s administrative team, meet teachers and observe a class.
Thurman said it was helpful to see what it looks like to lead more than 100 teachers, without being a micro-manager.
“We talked a lot about that in terms of staff and how you work with your team. That’s what we as community and business leaders are looking at is leading teams,” he said. “(Smith's) role is sort of chief team-leader … There’s just so many different things going on in school that he’s overseeing.”