By Michael BRUER
For over 20 years, the Glendale Unified School District has organized the Principal for a Day program with remarkable results. To date, the program has yet to have any repeat participants, and prides itself on providing business and organizational leaders a glimpse into the Glendale school system.
On Monday, 30 interim principals walked the halls of local schools such as Crescenta Valley High and Lincoln Elementary. Each school provided unique learning opportunities for each of their respective guest principals.
All of the participants spoke highly of their experience, with many recommending the program to future candidates. Notable occurrences included a fire drill and the opportunity to meet parents and direct traffic as students arrived.
One of the more recognizable names on the principal roster was that of Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. As the most senior-serving member of the board of supervisors, Antonovich maintains a unique perspective on education, politics and the delicate intersection of the two.
His day began early on the chilly sidewalk in front of Lincoln Elementary in La Crescenta. Joined by his deputy Rita Hajimanoukian and third year principal Stephen Williams, Antonovich greeted arriving students of the elementary school. The trio then proceeded to tour the school, popping in and out of classrooms that included all grade levels. In some rooms, Antonovich was merely a fly on the wall, absorbing the information provided by the teacher and observing the attentive children in their element. In other rooms, the attention was focused on the former professor as the students proceeded to ask him difficult questions, including “Is your job hard?” “What kind of problems do you solve?” and even, “What is the most difficult thing you’ve done at your job?” Antonovich, a graduate of John Marshall High School, replied with uplifting and supportive answers.
“Everything you do is hard, unless you like it. I enjoy my job, so it’s not hard. Difficult, but not impossible,” he said. “The hardest part of my job is bureaucracy, and a lack of time.”
Highlights of his day included a visit to the recently renovated school library, newly retrofitted with wooden floors, as well as a visit to the blacktop for recess, where Antonovich was given the honor of bestowing the Lincoln Lion to the class that lined up straightest.
The day was capped off by a visit to the joint student council, made up of boys and girls in fourth through sixth grades. Antonovich proceeded to ask the eager students a collection of questions, querying them on what they like about Lincoln Elementary, what things they do as a student council, and what they would like to be when they grow up.
Lincoln’s actual principal Stephen Williams was a gracious host. He was endlessly optimistic and unceasingly open and honest about the challenges of being a principal. His enthusiasm for his students was emulated by his teachers.
The Principal for a Day program concluded at the Glendale Unified School District boardroom. The luncheon provided the principals and their stand-ins a chance to share their respective experiences with the group.
Other notable interim principals included Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins who toured Cerritos Elementary; Kevin Roberts, CEO of Glendale Adventist Hospital who roamed the halls of Crescenta Valley High; Lt. John Gilkerson of the Glendale Police Dept., a guest of Edison Elementary; and Jack Ivie, president of Glendale Memorial Hospital, who spent time at Roosevelt Middle School.