A short course on education: Educator for a Day
by The Press and Standard | November 22, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: November 20, 2018 at 10:13 am
Diane Caron’s morning on Nov. 14 was eye-opening.
A normal Wednesday morning usually finds Caron handling her duties as AHEC’s Continuing Professional Development Coordinator; on Nov. 14 she was an Educator for a Day.
Her assignment was to shadow Colleton County High School Principal Dr. Maurice Cannon.
“High school has changed quite a bit since the 80’s.” Caron said. She graduated high school in 1983.
The change was significant. “What was once an independent responsibility in an aging building has changed to numerous services for students in a beautiful place to learn.”
Her time with the principal gave her “a wealth of information.”
“I was extremely impressed with his concern for individual students as well as his interest for the school as a community and as a whole,” Caron said.
“Talking one to one with students about the importance of good decision-making, as well as offering his condolences to a student grieving the loss of a family member, he portrayed the image of good role model,” Caron said.
“Walking, or should I say, bustling down the hallways while answering the walkie-talkie, checking emails and greeting all made me understand why he is fit,” she added.
During her morning at the high school, Caron said she also had the opportunity to follow Kathy Shider, the lead guidance counselor, for a while.
“I learned of all of the services offered and requirements that need to be followed. It seemed a bit arduous to me and am grateful that I am not in her position. But, when she stated that she makes a difference to at least one student a day, I understood her satisfaction in her position,” Caron explained.
“Today’s world has changed since the 80’s and Principal Cannon and his staff are changing with the times offering an opportunity to all students for an excellent education,” she said.
Educator for the Day has been a Colleton County School District program for three years.
Before that, it was known as Principal for a Day.
The school district’s Director of Student Services Dr. Cordelia Jenkins explained that it changed when Colleton County School Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster “wanted to engage our community members with varied educational experiences to include our Teachers of the Year.”
The district holds the annual event as part of American Education Week, which was from Nov. 12-16 this year. Jenkins said “American Education Week is observed to present all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.”
The goal of the Colleton County School District Educator for a Day Initiative is to allow school leaders and the business community to share ideas, resources, and a sense of responsibility for public education, Jenkins explained. “The initiative gives business and community partners a first-hand perspective of the decisions and responsibilities that are faced daily in our schools,” she added.
In addition, Jenkins added, “It provides our students and staff the opportunity to benefit from the services and resources that are available in the community. It is also a strategy to strengthen the current relationships between the community and schools.”
Jenkins says the program has been effective in meeting those goals. “Over the years, Colleton County School District was able to build positive relationships with local agencies, community leaders and gain resources for our students through the Educator for the Day experiences. Community partners become volunteers and/or mentors. Often times, business partners sponsor events to support our youth in Colleton County.”
An invitation letter is given to all members of the Chambers of Commerce. Potential participants also request activities they would like to experience with the administrators, teachers and youth.
Participants primarily shadow their administrator or teacher of the year. They engage in various duties or activities at the school including bus duty, lunch duty, classroom observations, reading morning announcements, and reading books to classes.
Caron was one of 17 area residents who volunteers to participate in the Colleton County School District’s Educator for a Day.
After spending the morning in schools, the participants gather in the board meeting room to share their thoughts with school officials in a discussion led by Jessica Williams, the school district’s director of curriculum and instruction.
Jenkins hopes the conversation continues. “I hope that participants share their experiences throughout the community so that we gain more support for our students, teachers and staff. I hope that participants utilize their agency resources to sponsor events and align their activities with Colleton County School District so that we can build Colleton County community together.”
Joining Caron as Educators for a Day were:
Cindy Riley, executive director of Colleton County First Steps, spent the morning with Northside Elementary School Principal Wilsey Hamilton.
Timara J. McMurtry, branch manager of Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union, spent the morning with Bells Elementary School Principal Amy Liebenrood.
Nikeyia Hammonds, director of the local office of Commission of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, spent the morning with Cottageville Elementary School Principal Janis Headden.
Kim Bridge, director of Colleton County Arts Council, spent the morning with Forest Hills Elementary School Fourth Grade Teacher Wendy Strickland, 2018 Teacher of the Year.
Al Jenkins, regional director for Colleton County for U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, spent the day with Forest Hills Elementary School Principal Matthew Brantley.
Angie Salley, director of Coastal Empire Mental Health, spent the morning with Hendersonville Elementary School Principal Marcella Glover.
Sandy Polk, director of the Colleton County office of the Department of Social Services, spent the day with Black Street Early Childhood Center Principal Barbara Kulisek.
Corporal Rusty Davis of the Walterboro Police Department spent the morning with Thunderbolt Career and Technology Center Assistant Principal Charles Locklair.
Cornelius Hamilton of the South Carolina State University’s 1890 Research, spent the morning with Hendersonville Elementary School Principal Marcella Glover.
Diane Mathews, director of Lowcountry AHEC, spent the morning with Colleton County High School Social Studies Teacher Rebecca Goodwin, a former Teacher of the Year.
Tarsha Anderson of the Colleton County office of the Department of Juvenile Justice spent the day with Colleton County Middle School Principal Lauren Behie.
Amy Bolukbasi, owner of Pineland Plantation Events, spent the morning with Colleton County Middle School math teacher Gloria Brown, a former teacher of the year.
Jane T. Brewer, associate dean for Student Affairs at USC Salkahatchie, spent the morning with Colleton County Middle School Marrissa Jones.
Ephraim Green and Nat Knox, mentors with St. Peter’s A.M.E. Church’s faith based-organization, spent the morning with Colleton County School District Alternative School Coordinator Brenda Williams.
Sharon Witkins, who will join the Colleton County School Board shortly, spent the morning with Colleton County School District Superintendent Dr. Franklin Foster.