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School visits provide insights for ASU administrators

December 05, 2008

Participating in Phoenix’s 17th Annual Principal for a Day program sponsored by Merrill Lynch has given two administrators from ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL) the chance to see dedicated public school educators in action while expanding their own community connections.

CTEL Dean Mari Koerner and Assistant Dean Sally Hurwitz each spent a day at a school in the city of Phoenix. Koerner visited Mitchell Elementary School in the Isaac Elementary School District. She is now making plans with Linda Crawford, the school’s principal, to bring a group of Mitchell School students to ASU’s West campus this spring to experience Arizona State University firsthand.

“My visit to Mitchell School served as a wonderful reminder of how a great public school can work for each child,” Koerner says.

“The diversity in the school only makes the learning more exciting because of the inclusion of families and the community. Mitchell is a school where a serious approach to learning is matched by kindness and joy which can be found in doing a good job. The teachers are striving to become even better, as 20 of them are undergoing the rigorous process of obtaining a National Board Certification.”

Hurwitz was the guest of Kristin Lee, principal of Desert Trails Elementary School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District. The day started with an example of how business support can assist public schools, as arriving children and their parents were greeted by the mascot from a local restaurant that would be donating a portion of the evening’s profits to the school.

“I had the privilege of being included in a pre-conference discussion with a teacher in preparation for Mrs. Lee’s observation of the teacher the following week,” Hurwitz says. “Mrs. Lee was very skilled in gathering information and challenging the teacher to be thoughtful in her lesson preparation.”

Later Hurwitz sat in on what she describes as an “amazing lesson” in which a second-grade teacher used cooperative learning strategies to teach compound words. “What a treat – the teacher did a great job,” Hurwitz says.

Koerner and Hurwitz were two of more than 160 Valley business and community leaders who participated in the annual Phoenix Principal for a Day program. Both were left with strongly positive impressions of the program.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to participate in a real school setting and bring back knowledge to CTEL’s future teachers and principals about what lies ahead,” Hurwitz says. Adds Koerner, “Principal for a Day illustrates the benefit of becoming aware of the schools in your community. A school you may have simply passed by can become a new connection where your friendship and advocacy can make a difference.”

Koerner says participation in the program is a logical extension of CTEL’s close working relationships with Valley school districts. Each semester hundreds of CTEL students are placed in student teaching and field experience placements in Phoenix-area schools, as part of the college’s degree offerings in early childhood, elementary, secondary and special education.

CTEL offers teacher certification programs for undergraduate students as well as people with a bachelor’s degree in another field who are pursuing a career change to education. The college also offers master’s degrees and a doctorate in education for working teachers and administrators.

In addition to its degree programs at ASU’s West campus and in several rural Arizona communities, CTEL is in the process of expanding offerings for education majors at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus. More information is available at