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Principal for a Day connects students and leaders

Future educators catch valuable glimpse into 'the real world of schools'

Posted: January 23, 2009 9:38 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2009 12:00 p.m.

Sun Kim-Young, 'Principal for a Day' participant, right, talks with Live Oak Elementary School Principal Cynthia Seamands, left, Friday morning as they tour the campus. Future educators shadowed principals from more than 40 local schools to get a first-hand look at school life.


A room full of 20 Live Oak Elementary School kindergarten students neatly sat around tables working on arts and crafts projects during "Friday Free Play," as Principal Cynthia Seamands and her shadow made a visit.

A small group of kids made art out of construction paper, while others strung rubber bands on geoboards.

A row of kindergartners stood near the sink, painting pictures in time for Monday's Chinese New Year.

"So this is the world of kindergarten," Seamands said to Sun Kim-Young, who shadowed Seamands Friday.

After a few minutes of chatting with teachers and parent-volunteers, Seamands guided Kim-Young out of the classroom and continued the tour of the 700-student Castaic school.

It was part of the Santa Clarita Valley Education Foundation's annual "Principal for a Day," and Kim-Young was one of the program's "future educators" who shadowed Santa Clarita Valley principals for a glimpse into the daily responsibilities of a school's top leader.

"It's so valuable. It shows what really happens in the real world of schools," Seamands said.

Along with 10 College of the Canyons students picked to be shadow principals, nearly 50 representatives from 26 of the Santa Clarita Valley's business community sponsored various schools and shadowed principals and superintendents.

This year's "Principal for a Day," now in its 17th year, connected students and business leaders to 38 schools.

"They find out first-hand what is really going on in our schools and our school districts," said Ann Unger, executive director of the SCV Education Foundation.

Money raised through "Principal for a Day" pays for classroom projects and teaching materials for local districts. The foundation provided more than $200,000 to local schools over the past four years.

At Live Oak, Seamands, who is on her second year as Live Oak principal, wanted to show Kim-Young the significance of building relationships with teachers, parents and students.

"It's global, yet it's focused," she said. "We have to realize it is the child we need to serve, and the parent and the community."

Kim-Young is an instructional aid for the Newhall School District and works with English as a Second Language (ESL) students.

She was born in Korea and moved to the United States initially to pursue a career in jewelry design.

After relocating to the Santa Clarita Valley with her husband, she developed a desire to teach.

"I have this bug that I want to be a teacher," Kim-Young said.

She studied at the University of La Verne through the College of the Canyons University Center. Her next step is to finish the 15-month credential program and start submitting resumes to local school districts for a teaching position.

Her role as an instructional aide allows Kim-Young to connect to students who are learning English because Kim-Young had to learn English on her own when she came to America.

"It was sink or swim. I had to learn," she said. "The kids who come here shouldn't learn that way."

Even though Kim-Young is familiar with the responsibilities of teachers, keeping up with a principal's schedule can be a lot to handle.

"They have so many jobs and tasks to do," Kim-Young said.


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