Program Services Director Noemi Perez of The Immokalee Foundation recently was sent back to elementary school – as a participant in Collier County Public Schools’ annual Principal for a Day program.
“It really opened my eyes to what a day is like in the life of a school principal,” said Perez, who spent a day in mid-November at Eden Park Elementary School in Immokalee. “I walked around the school and visited a few classrooms, alongside Principal Linda Salazar. I sat in a few administrative meetings, which allowed me to see and hear about certain issues and challenges the school faces.”
Salazar explained that the challenges on the day Perez shadowed her were significant, which is not particularly unusual in the school that serves kindergarten through fifth-grade students. Many of the children come from low-income families, which can present difficulties for the students as well as their teachers.
For example, Perez joined administrators and the school leadership team to discuss how to help several students who were struggling; for those students, life situations had become “obstacles to learning,” Salazar said. “Noemi got to sit in and listen to the problem-solving” among administration, teachers and staff. “She was also with me when students talked to me about why they didn’t do their homework,” a measure taken to stress to students the importance of accountability, Salazar said. “And then later, she was in on discussions with the parents.”
“Everyone has a perception of what a principal’s day would be like,” Perez said, “but until you are able to see it firsthand, you may not fully appreciate the work they do. It is not an easy job, but you can see how rewarding it is and the impact a principal makes every day.”
The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences, and life skills development leading to economic independence. To learn more about The Immokalee Foundation, volunteering as a career panel speaker or host, becoming a mentor, making a donation, including the foundation in your estate plans, or for additional information, call 239-430-9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.