A record of more than 1,400 volunteers - including 500 "first-timers" will be Principals for a Day today as the program marks another year of bringing broader civic involvement to Chicago Public Schools, Mayor Richard M. Daley said today.
Daley initiated Principal for a Day in 1998 in an effort to encourage the civic and corporate communities of the Chicago area to adopt and support individual schools by doing such things as sponsoring books clubs, organizing field trips, supplying computers and other equipment, building science labs and awarding college scholarships.
"Much of the progress our city has made over the years has been made possible because so many people have pride in our city and are fully engaged in our goal of improving the quality of life for every resident of Chicago," Daley said in a news conference at Orr Academy High School, 730 N. Pulaski, where he annually serves as "Principal for a Day."
"One of the most successful programs we have for broadening support for our school system is "Principal for a Day," he said. "I want to encourage our community groups, not-for-profits and faith-based groups, parents, grandparents and friends of our students to step up and help our school system keep moving forward."
Since the program's inception more than a decade ago when 677 persons volunteered as one-day principals, more than 300 organizations and individuals have established long-term partnerships with schools that stem from Principal for a Day.
"Principal for a Day" now includes individuals from many walks of life: authors, artists, sports figures, elected officials, doctors, consuls general and retirees have joined business people in the volunteer effort.
Principals for a Day are assigned to schools throughout CPS. Suggested activities for the initial half-day commitment include shadowing the school’s actual principal, addressing faculty and staff, touring the school, working with classrooms or individual students in one’s area of expertise, or speaking to a student assembly.
A luncheon hosted by the Mayor for PFAD participants concludes the day’s activities. The 2009 Principal for a Day program is sponsored by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.
Daley thanked the “Principal for a Day” participants for their contributions and issued a challenge to the business and civic communities for the coming year.
"We have many great partnerships that benefit CPS schools, but we always need more. We need our many stakeholders to adopt and embrace schools, mentor students and help provide needed resources," the Mayor said.
"Our students are the future of our city. We want to encourage business and civic leaders to contribute further to this future by working with our schools in areas such as career education and job creation," he said.
Among the highlights of the 2009 PFAD program:
The PFAD luncheon will for the first time showcase the variety of CPS student talent. The showcase will include academics, art, language, business, sports and music. Participating students come from schools across the city.
Coles School alumnus and WGN radio personality Dean Richards will broadcast his show October 29 from his alma mater and also serve as emcee of the PFAD luncheon. Several hundred CPS alumni serve annually as PFADs.
"Volunteering is a great way to show pride and enthusiasm for the City of Chicago and to give something back at the same time," Daley said. "When you help a student today, you make an investment in the future prosperity of our city."
"Principal for a Day" is an excellent opportunity for civic and corporate leaders, as well as interested individuals from many career paths, to view the positive work being done in CPS on a daily basis, and also to see the needs of individual schools, said CPS Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman.
"This program provides a window into our schools and, we believe, inspiration for its participants to give of themselves in an extremely meaningful way," Huberman said. "Whether as a role model to youth, through a tangible gift to a school or in an ongoing relationship, Principal for a Day has positive short- and long-term implications for those who serve as principals for the school communities."
Daley also reminded Chicagoans that Halloween is this Saturday and that young people will be out on neighborhood streets in large numbers.
"I again want to make it clear to every parent that we are doing all we can to keep our students safe - both at school and after school is over. But, the police can't do the job alone. Protecting our young people must be Chicago's shared crusade. I want us to put our city's energy and passion into saving them," he said.
The Mayor said parents should know where their child is and who their child is with and make sure young people under 17 are home by curfew at 11 p.m.