Below is a first-hand account written by WMBF News' Assignment Desk Manager Robert Blomquist about his experience as "Principal for a Day" at Horry County Schools' Lakewood Elementary earlier this week.
With about 1,000 students, Lakewood Elementary School is one of the largest schools in the Horry County Public School District. But Principal Katherine Roberts and her staff have a way of making students feel like they are not just a number.
This week I had the opportunity to visit Lakewood as part of the district's "Principal for a Day" program.
Let me tell you, a principal's day is a long one - we're talking 12 hours long. It all starts with student drop-off just before 7 a.m.; that's not mentioning the scheduling, work orders and checking parent phone calls and emails before students get there.
The entire school experience is nothing like when I was a child. Each student is greeted by staff and faculty with a smile, a wave and a quick word of encouragement when they arrive at school.
After that Principal Roberts and I spent the day visiting classrooms. We talked with students about their day, and what they were learning. Did you know honey is actually bee spit? I know, gross right? But it tastes so good.
Students in today's schools are afforded many more opportunities than what you and I ever had. When learning about bee spit, A.K.A. honey, Mrs. Valentine took us out to the school's garden to show us how flowers are pollinated, and using the SMART board showed us how bats use their incredibly long tongues to eat from flowers. Mr. Keyser's class used iPads to take a virtually reality tour through the western plains to learn about Vaqueros - those are Mexican-American cowboys.
Throughout the entire day I encountered students excited to learn.
Gone are the days of rows and individual desks. Today's classroom is not about listening to a teacher speak and reciting back what was said.
Everything is team-based; desks and tables are brought together to create groups. But even then, who likes to sit in a chair all day? Many of the lessons are taught standing up. In structured activities, students move about the room helping each other learn. And it's not just about the lesson of the day; the structured lessons are designed to get students involved, to have them interact with one another and help one another succeed.
And succeed they do.
Having the opportunity to be "Principal for a day " was an amazing experience. To say the work being done at Lakewood impressed me would be an understatement. My own daughter will attend Lakewood Elementary School next year. I wish every parent could have the same opportunity. Perhaps if parents did they would know, what I do now, how hard working and caring the faculty/staff are.