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Business leaders are principal for a day

Leaders from industry tour local schools

Posted: December 2, 2015 - 12:00am
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Putnam and assistant principal Merrell Garner (right) escort Tidwell on a tour of the school. Executives can discuss what they learn about schools during a breakfast.
Putnam and assistant principal Merrell Garner (right) escort Tidwell on a tour of the school. Executives can discuss what they learn about schools during a breakfast.

As classes changed at Stallings Island Middle School, one of the things that struck Brian Tidwell as different than his own middle school experience was the quiet hallways.

Tidwell’s normal day job is general counsel at Textron Specialized Vehicles. On Tuesday, though, he got to be principal for a day, along with 30 other business leaders visiting Columbia County schools.

“It’s a very calm campus,” he said. “When we walked down the hallway, even with the lockers, there was a wide path.”

“When you don’t have to be bumped and jostled, when you have room to access your locker, it makes a big difference,” said Don Putnam, the principal at Stallings Island.

Tidwell said his morning is normally occupied with getting ready for negotiations at Textron, which makes E-Z-Go golf cars and Bad Boy Buggies in south Augusta.

Putnam took Tidwell for a tour of the building, something he does every morning to make sure outside doors are secure. Tidwell also observed classes as part of his day at the
school.

The Principal for a Day experience wraps up on Wednesday with a breakfast where the executives can discuss what they learned while shadowing a school principal and then discuss how that knowledge could benefit the school system, said Tammy Shepherd, the chief executive officer for
the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the event.

At Grovetown High School on Tuesday morning, Pat Brown from John Deere got a lesson in student logistics.

“You see a lot of people flow in, they learn during the day and then they flow back out,” said Brown, who is the logistics manager for Deere’s Grovetown manufacturing facility.

It is the second year that Principal Craig Baker’s 1,800-student high school participated. This year’s focus is on the ways industry can help schools. Brown’s visit can offer real world examples to teachers, he said.

“Teachers that come through traditional teaching programs don’t necessarily have a lot of industry knowledge. It’s great to be able to see an engineer coming in and saying this is how I use math every day,” Baker said.

This is the third year that the chamber has placed business leaders in the schools to shadow a principal.

Shepherd said the schools are teaching future workers and leaders. “The mission of our Workforce in Education Committee is to build the bridge between the educational institutions and our future workforce needs. Bringing educators and executives together grows awareness and helps build those bridges,” she said.

“I’m a real believer that the more adults you can get in the building, the better off you’re going to be,” Putnam said. “Even if I have one person for the day, that’s a good thing.”

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