On Monday, October 22 Gerald Esposito, President of Tidewater Utilities, Inc. had the privilege of being Principal for a day at Lulu Ross Elementary School in Milford. Fourteen months after he first started his job at Tidewater Utilities, Inc., Gerald volunteered for the Delaware Principal for a Day Program. Every year since for the last thirteen years, Gerald participated in this event.
By Gerald Esposito
Why do I do this? The short answer is: because it’s rewarding, satisfying and validates what I have thought all along – that our schools are doing great things and that our principals and teachers are our unsung heroes.
Walking in the shoes of a school principal – even for just one day a year – is a direct reminder of what a critical role our teachers and school administrators play in shaping and guiding Delaware’s future generations of citizens, community members, and leaders. I have found that the only real way to appreciate their contributions is to participate firsthand in their “world” in everything from strategic planning and capital budgeting, to greeting students at the morning buses and making sure the “organized chaos” called lunch in the cafeteria was under control. How these talented and dedicated professionals are able to carry out their official duties while also “juggling” the multiple roles of surrogate parent, mentor, coach, motivator, disciplinarian, cheerleader, and hall monitor is always remarkable to me.
More than anything, I’ve come away from these one-day crash courses on Delaware’s educational system deeply impressed with the degree of patience our educators possess and exercise every single day. I also felt gratified and a sense of pride from my other perspective as a parent of two boys who successfully progressed through the same Milford School District where I volunteered. It is one thing to stay focused on two boys in whom you have a vested interest, it is quite another to devote your full attention to hundreds of children, any one of whom at a particular time, may be poised to take on a life-changing role if only the right door was opened.
I’ve enjoyed my interaction with the school system as both a parent volunteer and now as a business person because I believe that giving back is not only essential for community building but also good business practice. Our company has a strong commitment to give back to and participate directly in the communities in which we serve. In addition to my service as “Principal” for a Day, my colleagues and I have served as mentors, provided job shadowing, served on school advisory committees, maintained various points of contact with the schools, conducted education outreach and contests and provided Junior Achievement volunteers.
Through this interaction, the students have been exposed to different careers and learned about wise water use and our employees have built their presentation and leadership skills. It’s a win-win all around. I always try to relate to the principals and teachers what skills are really important to future employers like us. I try to impress that class work translates into building skills in critical thinking and problem solving –invaluable skills in any profession.
I find that by relating “real-world” situations helps bring business to life in the classroom and reinforces why doing well in school helps pave the road for the future. I can say from the number of years I have been involved, I‘ve noticed that there is more of a progression toward a more balanced educational experience as opposed to strict focus on rigid standardized test preparation. The principals, teachers, and students seem more engaged in an environment that produces a more “well-balanced” student, one that is versatile, adaptable and perhaps better equipped to succeed in today’s business world.
Likewise, it is important for business-people like me to listen to our educators and try to better understand the huge financial, social, and time management challenges, they face so that the business community can help with solutions where we can. Not a bad lesson for a one-day-a-year investment of time, right? That’s why I will be back in 2013 for my fourteenth year.