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Principals for a Day get up-close look at schools

By By Sherry Digmon and Lori Dann
Advance Staff Writers
Once a year, community leaders get to sit in the big chairs in the county's public schools.
The Escambia County Board of Education's Principal for a Day program gives them the opportunity to see up close what a school principal does, at least what he or she does in one eight-hour period.
The Rev. Dr. John Brannon, First Methodist Church, worked with Rachel Patterson Elementary School Principal Buck Powell.
He termed his day "an enlightening experience."
Brannon said his most sobering moment of the day came during a math contest that morning, with two-thirds of the students in the cafeteria.
Alan Bell, chief financial officer with Alto Products, spent the day with Principal David Nolin at A.C. Moore Elementary.
Bell described his day at ACM as "eventful."
One student who was referred to the principal's office for discipline thought he was innocent and decided about halfway to the office that he would take his chances on the road.
Nolin, who is on crutches due to a knee injury, knew he couldn't catch the student.
It was not a duty that Bell had expected to perform that day.
Bell said one of the hardest parts of dealing with a discipline problem is in being consistent with guidelines from the school board. It's much the same as a policeman deciding whether to give a warning or a ticket or ignore a situation all together.
While Bell did spend time with paperwork and a couple of discipline problems in the principal's office, he also spent time with the students.
Emilie Mims, executive director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, said her day with Principal Betty Warren at Huxford Elementary School was enjoyable and educational.
Mims also had a chance to spend some time with HES teachers.
Mims gave her day at HES an A+.
Peggie Byrd, manager of Alabama Power, found few surprises upon her visit to Escambia County Middle School. But she left with "a great appreciation for what educators do for these students."
Byrd sat in on several discipline cases, shared lunchroom duty with assistant principal Mona Simmons. observed some classes and took a tour of the computer lab area during her day at the school. She also sat in on an assembly about the dangers of drugs and observed choral students practicing for the Black History Program.
Mitch Staples discovered that being a high school principal is much like being the vice president and chief financial officer at United Bank. He worked with Terrence Mixon at Escambia County High School.
Staples also discovered the struggle the faculty and staff go through to help some of the students. They need to be tutored but also kept in class to pass their core subjects.
Staples said the day was a learning experience for him.