By Terry Rogers
On Friday, October 8, Yanelle Powell, Office Manager for SolarCity, spent the day sitting in as Principal for a Day with Elizabeth Conaway, Principal of Evelyn I. Morris Early Childhood Center. The program, sponsored by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, was designed to address a need to foster working relationships between business leaders and educators under the Superstars in Education umbrella. The program is funded by the business community and seeks to award Delaware educators who have implemented and sustained a creative, unique program, or a teaching practice that works to raise student achievement.
Ms. Powell, whose son attends Morris, said that she decided to participate in the program because the teachers at the school were extremely helpful with her son who is autistic. “Mrs. Andrea and her support staff were phenomenal with my son when he was in the pre-kindergarten program last year,” Ms. Powell said. “The improvements in his social and motor skills were impressive. Ms. Andrea, Jennifer, his current teachers, Ms. Allen and Ms. Keller, their support staff will always be special to my son and myself.”
Ms. Conaway arranged for Ms. Powell to visit as many classrooms as possible during her day. The morning began with Ms. Powell joining Ms. Conaway for morning duties, including breakfast and bus responsibilities. Once those tasks were completed, Ms. Conaway walked Ms. Powell through the building, showing her various classrooms and explaining some of the special programs in the school.
“The walk-throughs enabled Ms. Powell to see the Common Core State Standards being implemented,” Ms. Conaway said. “It also allowed her to see the hard work the students were doing, the efforts of the staff to provide excellent education to the students and get a feel for what a typical day in the life of a kindergartener is really like.”
Ms. Conaway said that she became aware of the Principal for a Day Program through an advertisement and an email. She felt that involvement would be a great way to promote the amazing work of the students and staff. In addition, she felt that the program benefitted students as it would provide more information to the public about the demands students face each day, even in the early stages of education.
“I have a passion for education having spent six years in post-secondary education,” Ms. Powell explained. “I managed the Student Services Department at a local career college in Miami. During my time there, I realized how rewarding it was to my students to graduate and become successful in their careers. I then realized I wanted to pursue a career in education, in a leadership capacity. Participating in the Principal for a Day program is a great way to get an idea what a day in the life would be like for a leader in education.” Ms. Powell said that she particularly enjoyed greeting the students, meeting the staff and providing direct support to the children at the school.