Locals play principal for a day during 25th SCV Education Foundation event

Jim Backer (left), Chris Fall (center) and former principal Collyn Nielsen (right) talk to students at Hart High School for the SCV Education Foundation's Principal for a Day event on Oct. 13, 2017. Gina Ender/The Signal
About 50 community members took on a new role as principal, making themselves at home in the principals’ offices and visiting classrooms, for the SCV Education Foundation’s Principal for a Day event on Friday. Through sponsorships and donations, the foundation raised approximately $20,000 to give back to the schools for classroom grants and college scholarships during the 25th annual event. “People really have a great time,” Jim Backer, President of the SCV Education Foundation and Principal for a Day at Hart High School said. “They generally find that schools are first, dealing with a lot more things than they think they’re dealing with and then secondly, it’s pretty obvious the commitment to the people that you meet around this valley.” As the founder of the event, Backer has seen it flourish from its start as a $600 fundraiser. He has gone to schools across the valley every year to serve as the principal and enjoyed this year at Hart High School where his three children currently attend. “It gives us the chance to see school in real-time,” Backer said. “You get to see the kids, visit a few classrooms and understand from them how they got to where they are.” From the Education Foundation’s perspective, Backer said it helps them get better informed about the challenges schools face while helping them make connections with the schools and community.
Jim Backer and Chris Fall read notes on an encouragement wall at Hart High School for the SCV Education Foundation’s Principal for a Day event on Oct. 13, 2017. Gina Ender/The Signal
Spending a few hours at the school gave insight into what it entails to be principal, according to Chris Fall, a Hart High School father who served as the school’s other Principal for a Day. “I’ve learned a lot about the roles and responsibilities, their challenges on a day to day basis in managing students,” Fall said. With his daughter currently attending Hart High, Fall took the opportunity to interact with a lot of students he knew. He has served as Principal for a Day for his other children in the past and said he has always enjoyed himself. “I don’t know how much change we can evoke in two hours, it’s really more fun,” he said. “It’s more for us learning what each school with their administration is able to do.” Though Fall did not implement any changes in the school, he did offer all the students he encountered a piece of encouragement. “Make good choices and be a kind friend,” Fall said as he exited several classrooms, citing advice his wife often gives his children.
Jim Backer (left) and Chris Fall (right) walk with Principal Collyn Nielsen (center) at Hart High School for the SCV Education Foundation’s Principal for a Day event on Oct. 13, 2017. Gina Ender/The Signal
Collyn Nielsen, Hart High School’s principal every other day of the year, said he was glad to convey what students and staff experience each day and show how hard they work. “Being able to share what happens behind the scenes, the big concerns and focus is at a high school is a lot of fun and a very meaningful experience,” Nielsen said. The temporary principals were curious about Nielsen’s biggest challenge in his role, which he said was the shift in curriculum and the change in how students are taught. All three agreed the best part of being principal was spending time with students all day.


About the author

Gina Ender

Gina Ender

Gina Ender is a journalist covering city government and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in February 2017. You can contact Gina Ender at [email protected], 661-287-5525 or follow her on Twitter at @ginaender.