Principals followed teens on “Shadow a Student” day


Mid-Pacific Photographer Scot Allen

Mid-Pacific Assistant Principal Christel McGuigan, right, attended classes including hula with high schoolers on her “Shadow a Student” day.

Payton Antonio, Staff Writer

Mid-Pacific administrators lived through a day in the life of a student on a recent “Shadow a Student” challenge.

They took quizzes. Danced in the dance room. Rushed from class to class on a Monday schedule. Even waited in line for lunch at the caboose. The experience taught principals that being a student isn’t as easy as it looks.

“There has always been the question of what a day in the life of a student is truly like and as adults we may forget that,” said assistant principal for student life Jennifer Grems.

Grems shadowed full IB senior and SGA officer, Olivia Sakaguchi, who also participates in the MPSA dance certificate program.

“I learned there isn’t much communication between the faculty and the student so it was good that Mrs. Grems  had the opportunity to see what our day is really like,” said Sakaguchi.

The Shadow a Student challenge helps adults gain a better understanding of the student experience and to challenge their assumptions about school, according to the web site Administrators evaluated themselves as a student and not on the teaching or students they shadowed.

“It will help us think about how we lead the school and the decisions we make when students are the center,” said assistant principal for academics Christel McGuigan.

Administrators followed students in different programs such as a full IB student, an MPSA dance certificate student, an MPX student and a standard new incoming student.

Before shadowing a student, the administrators used the web site to prep for the day they meet with the shadowee. After the shadow day, the administrators used the website to reflect and to take action on the experience.

Admins participated in all class activities from showing Mr. Chance their work to collaborating in group projects. Engaging in each class helped the principals have more empathy for students.

McGuigan shadowed ninth grader Emmalee Spencer, who takes the standard schedule but is new to Mid-Pacific.

“Sitting alongside Emmalee, I witnessed if the students were comfortable and what they navigated throughout their day,” said McGuigan.

McGuigan listened to Emmalee’s perspectives on each class. She realized the periods are so short on Mondays that by the time the students started something engaging, it was time to pack up and go, said  McGuigan.

“It was a fun experience to see the adult witness the struggle of a current high schooler attending Mid-Pacific,” said Spencer.

Grems said she walked away from Olivia’s life learning that even though it was hard, everything was always done with a sense of joy, purpose, and engagement which made the experience inspiring.

“If the staff are in any way involved in student life, then they should take an opportunity like the administrators did and see what the everyday life is like because you never really know how someone’s day is until you take a walk in their shoes,” said Sakaguchi.

The administrators will use their experiences and reflect back on how the student life and classroom feels like from a student’s perspective when they talk about student engagement.