About a decade ago, prior to Dr. Stephanie DeMar’s arrival as principal at Loma Linda Elementary school, the educational institute was rife with problems. Students were skipping school regularly as truancy rates spiked. When students did come to school, threats and fights weren’t out of the ordinary. DeMar was faced with these issues–and more–when she assumed the role, setting out to make cultivating a safe, educational environmental her number one priority.
Fast forward to today and you’ll note that the Loma Linda Elementary has earned the distinction of being named a A+ School of Excellence from the Arizona Educational Foundation. The turnaround was eye opening for Lincoln Strategy Group’s Lisa Mascaro, who participated in the Principal for a Day program earlier this month at Loma Linda Elementary.
The Principal For a Day program was started 25 years ago, but had been on a temporary seven-year hiatus due to budgetary restraints. The program was brought back in March of 2017, giving the opportunity for local businesses and schools to connect, forming relationships that serve to foster future partnerships benefitting both parties.
Mascaro, a Project Manager at Lincoln Strategy Group, and Meghan Cox, LSG’s co-founder and principal each participated in the program this year, bringing their business expertise to schools in the Phoenix area. While Mascaro was at Loma Linda, Cox visited Larry C. Kennedy
The first-hand school experience was eye-opening for both Cox and Mascaro.
“I was blown away by their positive and innovating approach with students,” said Cox. “Larry C. Kennedy had even done away with detention in favor of focusing on mindfulness.”
“Seeing that roadmap of betterment, from a school plagued with problems to where it stands today was incredible,” said Mascaro. “It was amazing to see the students get involved and get excited about the process. We were able to interact with the kids and see each teacher’s individual style of instruction, each classroom was unique.”
Loma Linda and Larry C. Kennedy are in the Creighton School District, areas in which poverty remains a prevalent issue. A high percentage of students that attend these schools come from poorer socioeconomic households, putting further strain on the education system to help provide assistance. Unfortunately, struggling school districts aren’t always able to do that. This is precisely where the partnerships fostered by Principal for a Day come in.
“I was shocked that a school as innovative as Larry C. Kennedy only received $6k per year from tuition tax credit dollars,” said Cox. “Those are funds that they desperately need to fund after school programs. I have been working with them on marketing in order to increase their tuition tax credit dollars as well as connecting them to other nonprofits in the valley who would make great partners for the school.”
This won’t be the last time Lincoln Strategy Group gets involved with the Principal for a Day program. Cox advocates that other organizations do the same.
“We can get so caught up in looking ahead for our own businesses that we ignore the needs in front of us.” said Mascaro. “Educate yourself and get involved. We all have the power to impact our communities for the better.”
To view photos from Cox and Mascaro’s experiences with the Principal For a Day program, check the video below: