Broadneck Elementary Students Take Turns As Principal For A Day – by Zach Sparks
June 29, 2016
When Broadneck Elementary students funneled into the school during a June morning, they were greeted by two 5-foot-tall administrators, Gabriele and Sophia King, in place of their normal principal, the more than 6-foot-tall John Noon.
The children’s eyes were not playing tricks. The sisters were the third and fourth students to be named principal for a day during the 2015-2016 school year. In his second year at Broadneck Elementary — and soon to be third — Noon said he initiated the Principal for a Day program to reward students who attend school events like the sock hop, fall festival and PTO functions — participation that helps the school raise funds for technology, playground equipment and other upgrades. During each event, names are plucked at random from a pool of attendees.
The principal gig isn’t titular; the kids have to take some of the responsibilities that Noon handles. “We try to give them jobs to do, and they visit the classrooms and give feedback,” Noon explained, flashing a green strip of paper marked with open-ended statements like “The students seemed to really enjoy…” and “The students were able to…”
The exercise is thought-provoking for the students, and it allows the teachers to view their lessons from a child’s perspective. “Some of the teachers take it as a genuine reflection,” Noon said.
Earning their prized opportunity just days before the school year concluded, Gabriele, a third-grader, and Sophia, a first-grader, were eager to traverse the hallways and observe other age groups while still getting to enjoy their normal social activities.
“We had lunch duty and recess duty,” Gabriele said, adding, “We kind of walked around and played with [the other kids] at recess.”
Fifth-grader Ashley Smith got a behind-the-scenes look at a fire drill, yet she found the whole experience to be fun.
“I went to a bunch of classrooms and I did lunch duty,” Ashley said with a sheepish smile. “I did dismissal and morning announcements.”
Kindergartener Natalie Sarchiapone also played an active role in lunch duty. “Natalie got on the microphone and the room got absolutely silent,” Noon recalled. “Everyone working lunch duty was like, ‘We need her every day.’”
Beyond the everyday tasks, some of the students also got to witness interactions that typically occur behind closed doors. One of the winners sat in on a phone interview with a teaching candidate, offering her thoughts once the call was over. Another student watched Noon giving a teacher a review. “It was great for them to see, and I said, ‘Just like you guys get report cards, this is a conference between a teacher and Mr. Noon.’”
Next year may bring different opportunities, but regardless of each day’s activities, the winning students will have something to brag about.
“I really try to give them an authentic experience and let them do the job,” Noon said. “The teachers really greet them and play along.”
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