Community leaders from various fields had the opportunity to walk a mile in the shoes of a principal Thursday through Sumter School District's annual Principal for the Day program.
Twenty-six professionals from local businesses and industries, …
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Alice Drive Elementary
Lefford Fate, City of Sumter
Paul Robbins, First Citizens Bank
Crosswell Drive Elementary
Greg Thompson, Thompson Construction Group
F. J. DeLaine Elementary
Dr. Brenda Williams, The Family Unit
High Hills Elementary
Chief Master Sgt. Gordon Comerford, 20th Fighter Wing
Vince Johnson, The Sumter Item
Thomas Rhodes, Rhodes Graduation Services
Victoria Bailey, CA Harler Trophies and Engraving
William Croft, Curtis & Croft Law Firm LLC
Chief Master Sgt. Daniel L. Hoglund, 20th Fighter Wing
Pocalla Springs Elementary
Chris Spatola, Eaton
Rafting Creek Elementary
State Rep. David Weeks, D-Sumter
Shaw Heights Elementary
Pamela Brown, Children's author
Jay Montgomery, SAFE
Willow Drive Elementary
Susan Weston, Century 21 Hawkins & Kolb
Alice Drive Middle
Jay Schwedler, Sumter Economic Development/TheLINK
Chuck Wilson, Universal Benefits Inc.
Chestnut Oaks Middle
Justin Rivers, Wells Fargo
State Sen. Kevin Johnson, D-Manning
Chuck Ringwalt, WLTX
Tracy Harrington, Continental Tire
Sheriff Anthony Dennis, Sumter County Sheriff's Office
W. Jason Phelps, Jostens
Corp. Ernest McDowell Koty, S.C. Highway Patrol
David Merchant, Merchant Iron Works, Sumter City Council
Lt. Trevor Brown, Sumter County Sheriff's Office
Twenty-six professionals from local businesses and industries, the military, law enforcement, the state Legislature and other fields participated in the seventh-annual event, which offers a unique hands-on opportunity to see both the strengths and challenges of the district and helps to forge community partnerships, according to district staff.
Many leaders said they hadn't stepped into a classroom in a long time, and most said they walked away excited by what they saw.
Lefford Fate, support services director with the City of Sumter, visited Alice Drive Elementary School and Principal Suzanna Foley. He got to see Promethean boards and Chromebooks on display and in use and said he was pleased with his visit with the students, teachers and staff.
"I met a lot of kids who are very bright, articulate and polite," Fate said. "You hear a lot of negative stuff about kids today, but these were great kids, and it was a lot of fun. The teachers were happy and working hard, and it wasn't fake."
A former command chief in the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, Fate said he was amazed when he heard of many kids' favorite subjects in school.
"A lot of kids said, 'Oh, I really like math.' 'I really like science.' 'I really like history.' And these were third- and fourth-graders," Fate said. "I was like, 'I liked P.E. and lunch.' That was what I liked when I was a kid. So I loved what they were doing."
William Croft, an attorney with Curtis & Croft LLC, toured Millwood Elementary School with its principal, Cornelius Leach. Croft said his visit was eye opening and that he was thankful for the opportunity.
"Sometimes, in my daily life, I tend to get cynical, and maybe it's nice to step back and see all these children who have challenges of their own - far worse than any challenge I probably face in a regular day - but working hard and doing things with a great attitude," Croft said. "Everything was run so well and so smoothly. It helped me appreciate my own life a little bit more."
Tracy Harrington, product industrialization manager at Sumter's biggest industry, Continental Tire the Americas, spent the morning at Hillcrest Middle School in Dalzell with Principal Tarsha Staggers. He said it was nice to see all the technology in use in the classrooms and see students hone their math skills in a fun, game-like atmosphere.
Harrington said he was also able to meet a student whose father works at the Sumter plant.
"It's always nice to see some of the family that Continental is bringing into the community," Harrington said. "That's how we look at it - as one big family; so it was good."
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