OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - They operate their own businesses, but what happens when they're put in charge of their own school? On Thursday, some Ocean Springs business owners and community leaders became "Principal for a Day." The program changed their views of what really happens inside those school walls.
The day started at 7:15 a.m. for Vincent Burke, with car rider duty, tours and meetings. Then, it was off to the cafeteria.
"What's for lunch today," he asked the little ones.
Burke actually owns In the Zone, an after school and preschool program, but on Thursday, he was the boss at Pecan Park Elementary School.
"Why are there two principals," one boy asked.
"We're learning what the principal does every day," Burke explained.
"It's incredible and kind of a little overwhelming today how much he really does," said Burke, referring to the real principal, Chris LeBatard.
Burke was one of six business owners and professionals who participated in the first "Principal for a Day" event in the Ocean Springs School District. They observed teachers in the classroom, visited with students and learned the daily routines of administrators.
"It's been pretty positive, because I'm learning how he handles things, and we kind of discussed disciplinary issues," said Burke.
Over at the high school, Jill Taylor was in charge of that huge campus.
"I get to do lunch duty. I get to do bus duty," said Taylor.
When asked if she was looking forward to that, she replied, "Not so much, but there is Mandarin Chicken as the special today."
Taylor is an Ocean Springs realtor. She was getting a whole new perspective after experiencing a day in the life of a school principal.
"We hear a lot of negative things about public education in Mississippi, and that has not been my experience here today at all. It's very positive, have great opportunities and things going on for our kids," said Taylor.
"I think they've been shocked and awed, which is what we were hoping for. So, we think it's a great opportunity," said Ocean Springs School District Superintendent Dr. Bonita Coleman-Potter.
It was an opportunity that shined the light on the rewards and challenges facing educators and our schools.
"Number one, that they become stronger advocates for our schools and our school system. That they understand some of the challenges we've had fiscally and how those have actually impacted instruction and our school system," said Coleman-Potter.
"I think anytime a parent can get into the school and observe and see it from a school teacher's point of view, see it from an administrative point of view, it's an excellent opportunity," said Burke.
The school district teamed up with the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce to host the program. Those who participated included a doctor, an attorney and various business owners. They also have children in Ocean Springs schools. There is already a long list of parents who want to participate next year.