Principal for a day

Casa Grande business leaders break for lunch after spending half a day shadowing principals of Casa Grande Elementary School District schools.

CASA GRANDE — Twelve Casa Grande business leaders had a lot to chew on at lunch Thursday after shadowing 12 principals in the Casa Grande Elementary School District for half a day.

“Teaching has changed so much,” said Richard Rosales, community affairs manager at Arizona Public Service Co. “It’s a different role.”

He shadowed Robin Rosales, the principal of Ironwood Elementary School. Richard Rosales said he noticed that teachers were not only educating kids but also looking after the students’ emotional and physical health and trying to help them with their home life.

“Seeing it first hand made me want to ask, ‘How can I help?’” he said.

The shadowing was part of the district’s first Principal for the Day program. It was designed to bring local business leaders into the district’s schools and allow them to experience some of the challenges and showcase some of the projects students and teachers are working on, CGESD Communications and Marketing Specialist Mike Cruz said.

Brian Keller, CEO of Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, said he was impressed with the way that teachers would use any moment of free time to collaborate with each other on how to best reach students.

Evonnie Whitworth, vice president of human resources at Abbott Nutrition, said teamwork among employees is important both at her business and, she noticed, in the district.

There was a sense of collaboration among the teachers to work toward a common goal of what was best for the students, she said. The teachers really took pride in that goal and had fun doing it, which created an impression of a great place to work.

The day was also a chance to create new partnerships between the district and local businesses.

CGESD Superintendent JoEtta Gonzales said creating partnerships between local businesses and the school district could be beneficial to both. Students could learn about the many career opportunities in the area and the district could get some funding for special student projects. Businesses could also benefit from working directly with students and helping to teach the next generation of employees the skills they need for the workforce.

“Part of the answer is to get started,” said Bob Shogren, director of Casa Grande Alliance. “We need to develop a line of communication between the schools and local businesses. One school, one business, one program at a time until we have a relationship with the schools.”