Every year, PENCIL hosts the annual Principal for a Day (PFAD) event to give community members the opportunity to experience firsthand the many responsibilities of being a principal of Metro Nashville Public Schools. With the pandemic, it was even more important to PENCIL to share the remarkable work happening in the schools – so Principal for a Day returned in October with a fresh new look, thanks to event sponsors Southwest Airlines, Wilson Bank & Trust and Metro Nashville Public Schools.
More than 60 community members were recruited as guest principals in 40 Metro Schools, during the week-long PFAD celebration (October 26 – 30). On Monday, October 26, PENCIL hosted a Principal for a Day Kickoff Event to set the stage for this exclusive experience (watch the Kickoff Event here). Guests heard from keynote speakers, Angie Adams, PENCIL President & CEO; Mayor John Cooper and Dr. Adrienne Battle, Director of Schools.
“Our principals have a very challenging job in normal circumstances, and the pandemic has added so many new challenges – challenges of planning, logistics, technology, facility management, communications, human resources, and more,” said Dr. Adrienne Battle. “But our principals and their staffs have risen to the occasion day after day, week after week, month after month. They have never lost sight of our mission at MNPS: providing a high-quality education to every child, every day. That is what drives them 24/7.”
The virtual event concluded with a brief Q&A, led by Brandyn Payne, PENCIL Board Chair, featuring Dr. Stephen Sheaffer, Principal at Hillwood High School and Wendy Felts, PENCIL Partner and Community Relations Manager at The Loveless Cafe. Both addressed the opportunities and challenges they have experienced supporting our students during the pandemic.
When asked about opportunities for businesses to support MNPS during COVID, Principal Sheaffer replied, “… If your business can support us, the first thing that comes to mind is those social emotional needs and those basic supports… we couldn’t get everybody at our campus to get the food that they needed, so we had to reach out and find someone with transportation; and Wendy [The Loveless Cafe] volunteered the van and some employees, and 50 – 60 families in an apartment complex get food every week because of the partnership with Loveless, that wouldn’t otherwise. And so, a lot of times, it’s just: how can we meet basic needs?”
During PFAD week, each guest met with their assigned principal, and enjoyed personalized activities unique to that school. Activities included attending virtual classes with students, meeting with students and staff, and virtually touring the school. Although each experience was a little different, every guest left with a fuller picture of the work that goes into leading a school at this difficult moment.
“I learned how deeply Dr. Lewis cares for students, families, teachers and staff. From daily Instagram messages, to home visits, to ensuring in-person instruction for special ed students – the care Dr. Lewis has for the Croft community was beautiful to see,” said Hasina Mohyuddin, Guest Principal at Croft Design Center Middle Prep.
Added Molly Hissong, Guest Principal at West End Middle School, “I was so impressed. Don’t get married to an idea because it will likely change, but the goal is to do what is best for the students to enhance their learning.”