Woodbury mayor shadows Royal Oaks principalWoodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens stepped into the shoes of another administrator, Royal Oak Elementary Principal Susan Risius, last week when she participated in District 833’s “Shadow the Administrator” program.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens stepped into the shoes of another administrator, Royal Oak Elementary Principal Susan Risius, last week when she participated in District 833’s “Shadow the Administrator” program.
On Thursday, Nov. 15, Stephens spent two hours in the morning shadowing Risius and visiting classrooms at Royal Oaks.
“I believe that it’s a very good thing to bring people into our schools to see how we educate these days and how kids are learning,” said District 833 Communications Director Barb Brown. “It’s all about building relationships.”
Last week also marked the National Education Association’s American Education Week, which celebrates all district employees.
Shadow the administrator
Risius, who is new to District 833 this year, said she decided to participate in the shadowing program because she thought it would be a great opportunity to share what she does on a daily basis.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” she said. “I get to know the mayor, since I’m new to the community, and Mary gets to go ahead and see what it’s like at our school.
“I just thought it would be a great opportunity to meet city personnel and have that experience of sharing what I do every day.”
Stephens said she wanted to shadow Risius because it would provide her an opportunity to get inside the school.
“We have a good relationship with the school district,” she said. “But this is that opportunity to actually get in and have that experience of being in the school and seeing what they do and seeing some of the kids.
“It’s a different experience and one that I really wanted to do.”
A principal’s role
Risius gave a brief peek into the role of a principal by saying that the job has changed over the years.
“It’s changed from being very much a manager to an instructional leader,” she said. “It’s my job to be up to date and very much aware of research and educational practices.”
Stephens and Risius kicked off their day last week by filming a video segment for District 833. The rest of the day was spent visiting each of Royal Oaks’ classrooms.
“I think it’s most important that Mary is out and about in the building with real kids, real teachers and real learning,” she said.
Risius said visiting classrooms is something she tries to do every day as principal.
“I try to be in every classroom because it’s important that teachers know that I’m there and I’m supporting them,” she said.
Stephens said she was looking forward to introducing herself to students.
“It might be students’ first opportunity to have any civic engagement and see what’s happening at that city level,” she said. “If they’ve never met the mayor or don’t know about the City Council and what we do, this is a good first opportunity for them.”
Risius and Stephens both said they would consider participating in another shadowing opportunity because it’s a beneficial experience for both parties.
“I want to have (Stephens) leave with an even better understanding of how a school works and what a principal’s role is versus being the mayor of a community,” she said. “There probably will be some similarities.”