Community Leaders Took Over Pasadena Unified Schools as Principals For a Day on Wednesday

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By BRANDON VILLALOVOS

6:37 pm | October 26, 2016


Students at 27 different PUSD campuses were greeted by “new” principals Wednesday in celebration of the Pasadena Education Foundation’s annual “Principal for a Day Event” that gives community leaders the opportunity to spend a morning with a school principal to better understand their complex roles, and get perspective on the school system from within.

Since 2006, more than 325 community leaders have participated in this program used to build stronger relationships among schools, businesses, and the wider community.

“Principal for a Day creates a means for impactful collaboration between the business community and Pasadena Unified schools,” said Superintendent Brian McDonald. “It connects the talent, resources and great ideas of the Pasadena area with school leaders, teachers and students to create new solutions and promote innovation and growth that will continue making PUSD a top choice in education.”

Molly Munger was John Muir High School’s Principal for a day and served as this year’s “Principal for a Day” keynote speaker. Munger is a Founding Co-director of Advancement Project, a public policy change organization rooted in the civil rights movement.

“Everybody’s doing a good job right now with what we’ve got. We are on the upswing. We are making magic happen for kids everyday,” said Munger.

Munger is an alumni of the Pasadena Unified. She attended McKinley School and graduated from John Muir High School in 1966.

“In the amazing, well-funded, interracial schools I was lucky enough to attend — McKinley and Muir — I learned things I have never forgotten,” said Munger.

Munger was joined by Congressional Gold Medal recipient and member of the Little Rock Nine, Dr. Terrance Roberts, in a town hall-style forum on education and civil rights with senior government students at John Muir High earlier in the morning.

“My main hope for students is that they will understand that they have agency. They can make decisions and choices about who they are in this society,” Roberts said. “They can equip themselves with a higher level of awareness about our past with hope that they will be able to make decisions that are the kinds of decisions that will support them building a stronger foundation — not just for themselves — but all the people they happen to come in contact with over the years.”

Robert’s role in the Little Rock Nine made history on September 25, 1957 when nine African-American students risked their lives to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas under the protection of the Arkansas National Guard to test the strength of the 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education that struck down racial segregation in public schools.

He offered advice to the young adults and answered questions pertaining to success, civil rights and education based on his personal experiences.

“This is an opportunity for them to experience the kind of strength they have and maybe don’t even know about,” said Roberts.

This year guest principals included Mike DeHilster, Program Officer of Pasadena Community Foundation; Jamila Hunter, Network Development Executive of ABC Television Network; Elizabeth Jones, President and Co-Founder of Institute for Educational Advancement; Paul

Little, CEO and President of Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and several other local business leaders and community members participated as well.

“I really believe in the power of our public schools,” said Harrison Tang.

CEO and Co-Founder, Spokeo, Inc. and John Marshall Fundamental School’s principal for a day.

“The entire experience was very rewarding,” said Dawn O’Keeffe, Co-Owner, Blue Field Productions and Benjamin Franklin Elementary principal for a day.

The mission of the Pasadena Educational Foundation is to support, enhance, and supplement the programs, initiatives, and priorities of the PUSD, according to their website.

The PEF works to build excellence in the public schools of Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre through operating and supporting enriching and creative educational through events like “Principal for a Day”.

Until next year, schools will be back in session with their regular principals as usual.

“I love this place and I love seeing it in good hands,” said Munger, looking around the Muir campus.