Schmeiser Returns As Mispillion Principal


By Jo Schmeiser, CCGM Executive Director

Once a year the Delaware State Chamber reaches out to all the schools in the state to see if they would like to participate in their Principal for a Day Program. The primary purpose for a business leader to become guest principal is to experience the issues that a principal faces on a daily basis. The visit is supposed to provide a higher level of awareness and help strengthen the business-education partnerships. Not long after I sent in my application I received my assignment. Principal Susan Donahue, from the Mispillion Elementary School invited me back to her school and I gladly accepted. Here’s how my day went…

I arrived at the school around 7:20 a.m. to get ready to greet students as their parent or guardian dropped them off. I really love the idea of uniforms and thought the children looked nice, yet each had their own unique style as they marched into the school in everything from shorts to skirts and boots to sneakers. After acting as greeter, I joined Band Teacher Mr. Mentzer and students Kaylie and Madison to help out with the daily announcements.

From there I visited a Special Education class, where they were learning addition and subtraction, and I think Ms. Knox explained it a lot better, and made it much more fun than when I was in school. The next stop was a 5th Grad Science Class where students were doing hands-on PH Scale testing. Dr. Ward’s enthusiasm about insects, soil, water and fish spread onto her students as they too seemed to be having fun while learning.

Next we headed to the Book Fair. Principal Donahue informed me that the Book Fair is very well received, and it’s a money maker for the school as well benefitting the library and the Parents Association. She says many of the books sell-out and students can find everything from cook books to books about animals.

Our last visit before cafeteria duty and lunch was to Dr. Gaglione’s Expressive Arts Class which was probably my favorite of the day. Not only did the children learn something, I did too. Dr. Gaglione taught the class about Dia de los Muertos, which means Day of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos is a day to celebrate remember and prepare special foods in honor of those who have departed.
Before we ate lunch we were on cafeteria duty. The children were very well behaved and it was nice to see there was a great selection of healthy food for those who didn’t pack a lunch. It was nice to learn that the children have been very receptive to the healthier menus, trying new things all the time.

The rest of the afternoon flew by very quickly. The first graders returned (hands full) from a field trip to a Pumpkin Patch, we watched 5th graders taking typing tests (on computers & nothing like the typing tests I took on a manual typewriter) and went to another math class where the teacher used rubber dice to teach addition. Again, cool techniques to get children involved and interested, not bored.

The end of my school day was in sight, as I joined Assistant Principal Hilligoss with bus duty. Again I was quite impressed with the organization and well behaved students. The buses seemed to roll out as quickly as they rolled in. I complimented Principal Donahue on running her school like a well-oiled machine; however she informed me it isn’t always so well-oiled. She says she is proud of her staff and students, and says although things don’t always run smoothly, she’s happy to be in the position she’s in. I think she’s well suited as Principal, and by the response from both staff and students I believe they agree.