Santa Maria Sun / School Scene
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 2
Principal for a Day connects business with education
For Lockheed Martin systems engineer Scott Ballew, March 13 was definitely not a typical day at the office. Rather than driving down Betteravia Road to work that morning, he headed to Orcutt, walked onto the junior high school’s campus, and took over as principal.
It’s the sixth year in a row Ballew has participated in the Principal for a Day event put on by the Santa Barbara County Office of Education’s north county office. The event puts 40 local business owners and employees into schools in the Santa Maria Valley as principal for the day.
Ballew said the event gives him a great opportunity to develop relationships with students, teachers, and administrators at the schools, and he uses it to promote the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program.
“The industry needs more students to go into those types of fields,” Ballew said. “[They can] bring fresh ideas.”
Lockheed Martin encourages its employees to become part of STEM programs at local schools. Ballew said the relationships he develops as a temporary principal often end with Lockheed Martin employees volunteering time at the schools to participate in things like career days and developing engineering projects for students.
While developing relationships might be a big reason behind why Ballew participates in the event, he said he also likes to see what students and staff are doing at the schools.
Orcutt Junior High has a strong STEM program, which Ballew was very pleased with, but the junior high school also has what he called a “vocational arts type of class,” which takes students through sewing, cooking, shop, and more.
“It appears to be a vanishing type of course,” Ballew said. “It’s nice to see that there’s that type of class out there where kids can go in and practice those life skills.”
Giving business-oriented people a peek into how the valley’s kids are being educated is one of the big reasons to hold the event, said Peggy Greer, north county liaison for the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
The hope is that the peek into a school results in a relationship that brings community into the education system. The goal is to establish a connection, which leads to expertise and knowledge shared between school staff and the principal for a day.
“It’s just a really good dialogue between the two of them,” Greer said. “Otherwise they might not interact at all.”
The Santa Maria Valley has held Principal for a Day events for the last 22 years. Greer said it started as a statewide initiative and has died off in other areas over the years. Northern Santa Barbara County continues to participate because of the response the office has received from the community.
Principal for a Day volunteers can choose a school where they would like to participate, and some sites are scheduled years in advance.
“Some schools have five or six [volunteers] booked on the waiting list,” Greer said.