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Community leaders and partners learn what it takes to be Principal for a Day

On March 22, over 60 community partners were paired up with principals throughout San Juan Unified School District to participate in Principal for a Day. This annual special event gives community members an opportunity to learn about the inner workings of their local schools and provides them with a unique opportunity to see what kind of support and resources the schools are needing that they can help provide. 


“We have a lot of different resources,” said Lorenzo Washington, who was participating on behalf of the Mutual Assistance Network and Black Child Legacy Campaign. “We connect families to resources to housing; sometimes we can support in different ways with transportation, sometimes the families just need different types of counseling.” 


When asked about what stood out to him about the experience, Washington said, “Some kids got into a slight physical altercation on campus. The teacher got on the youth’s level, trying to understand what was going on.” Washington remarked how glad he was to see the school’s response. “It was more ‘let’s talk, let’s find out what’s going on, what’s the genesis of the situation so we can go back, find a different way to handle that.’” 


Principals were able to select the type of partner that they felt would benefit from the experience, from local leaders, community resource agencies and community organizations. Patrice Hill, director of Sacramento Area Youth Speaks, was among the participants in the half-day event.


“What stood out to me is the community that’s there. The way the principal knew every child we interacted with. The way they responded to her,” Hill said about her visit to Sierra Oaks K-8. When asked what she hopes the participating principals will get out of the experience, she added, “That they don’t have to do this work alone. That there are community partners out there that are ready and willing to support them and that we know this job is not easy”.


Principal for a Day is organized by the district’s Family and Community Engagement (FACE) department, which works closely with various community partners to help bring outside support to San Juan Unified schools, staff, and families. This year marked the return of the Principal for a Day event after being put on hold in 2020. 


At a closing luncheon for the event, Community Partnership and Volunteers Supervisor Natalia Aguirre-Mazzi, remarked, “It is our hope that the time at sites was beneficial to you all, whether it be forming a new connection to support families or for our community partners to understand gaps that we may have at our schools' sites.” 


Antoine Burks from Improve Your Tomorrow walking through a classroom of students.

Arcade Principal, Lindsey McManigal talking with Hollis Sweet from the Sacramento LGBT Community Center.Lorenzo Washington from Mutual Assistance Network addressing a room full of community partners, and principals during lunch.