MONROE, NC (WBTV) - The Union County Education Foundation (UCEF) sponsored its annual Principal for the Day event Wednesday. People in the community shadowed a principal for the day in the Union County school district. The purpose of this event was to give the community a look at what it takes to run a school and the resources needed to get the job done.
This was the 6th year doing the event. Each year participants have walked away learning and appreciating those who work in education. One of those participants was WBTV’s Dedrick Russell. He was principal for the day at Monroe High School.
The real principal is Shannon Batchelor. She is a graduate of the Union County Public School System. She says teaching has changed from when she was a student in the district.
“When I was in school you could make a mistake,” Batchelor said. “You could learn from it and tomorrow you moved on to something else.”
Batchelor believes thanks to social media students who make a mistake these days can’t move on.
“In this generation sometimes they struggle to live down those mistakes,” the principal said. “We post about those mistakes or somebody took a video of those mistakes.”
The principal says she has staff at the school that help students cope when they have made a mistake. Batchelor says she is working to make sure the adults connect with the students at school.
“We try real hard to build relationships,” Batchelor said. “And so of course we can all do better in that.”
When it comes to academic achievement this is room for improvement. In some areas students’ proficiency rate is about 40%. Batchelor is pleased the school exceeded academic growth this year. She says tutors who are now in place will help continue that academic progress. Students say when they graduate from Monroe High School - they will be college and career ready.
“Education here is really good,” Monroe High School Senior Victor Peralta said. “With all honesty, people say it’s not good.”
Peralta graduates next year - he says he will either pursue a film career or go directly to work as a barber. He says the opportunities at the school make a difference.
The school has classes in robotics, horticulture, biomedical and next year there will be a Health Science Academy at the school. Besides academics, students like the diversity the school offers. A little more than 1,000 students at Monroe High and roughly 80% of the student population is minority.
“We’re all one person,” Peralta said. “We all bleed the same and honestly we are all close.”
The principal and students realize there are some in the school who need extra support. Those students are handled and administrators intervene by conducting one on one sessions.
“There’s a lot of kids that will challenge you,” Monroe High School Senior Mya Rogers said. “But you got to be positive and you got to keep going with your day and your job.”
The principal says there are challenges at the school but some are challenges the school can’t avoid. Sometimes disagreements that happen in the community spill into the schools.
“The drama of high school is probably one of the toughest things that we deal with,” Batchelor said... “We try to keep our ears to the ground to know what’s going on and kids will tell us or other adults.”
During principal of the day - teaching and learning did happen. Monroe High School is very proud of its band, the JROTC program and the teaching staff that engages students to learn. Being a principal is no cake walk. Batchelor says she starts her day around 7 am and sometimes doesn’t leave the school until 7 pm or later. She says it’s a 24/7 job. She meets with teachers, goes over budgets, and reaches out to her students. She says her top priority is preparing kids for the future and that can be both inspiring and heavy.
“We are educating kids for a world that we don’t know yet.” Batchelor said.