JACKSON TWP. Jackson Memorial Middle School Principal Paul Salvino has always tried to make decisions based on what’s best for his students. To do that, he wanted to know what the school day was like for the close to 1,400 sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
He got that chance on Feb. 3 as the first "Salvino Switch" happened. Salvino turned into a student for a day while student Cooper Downerd was selected to be principal through a raffle held at the school.
"I was thinking a bit out of the box for a way for me to learn about how our students spend their school day and came up with the idea to switch roles with a student for the day," Salvino said. "We used a raffle run by the PATT (parent support group) to select the student. We pulled a ticket purchased by Cooper and selected a day that might be a bit slower for him as a new principal. I took over all of his classes for the day while he attended meetings and other functions of a middle school principal."
Monies raised by the raffle will be awarded by PATT to teachers for classroom materials. Copper said he purchased 20 raffle tickets because he wanted to see what it would be like to be a school principal and to do some time travel.
"I wanted to see what it would be like to be a principal and because I felt it would be like skipping ahead in time to see what’s like to be an adult," Cooper said.
Salvino did an agenda for Cooper for the day that included duties such as walking the building to make sure all the classrooms had everything they needed for the day, attending several meetings and serving as a lunchroom monitor.
By noon, Cooper said everything was running smoothly and he was preparing for a couple of more meetings before ending the day at 3 p.m. He carried a walkie talkie so he could stay in contact with people in the front office and teachers. He also came dressed for the job wearing business attire, including a tie.
"The school printed my name on the walkie talkie and put my picture and name on the door of the principal’s office," Cooper said. "My friends think it’s cool. One of the meetings I attended was a building usage meeting to set the calendar for renting the gym or classrooms. I had lunch room duty where I had to be involved with a discipline action."
The rest of the day he was scheduled to meet with the assistant principal to go over schedules, and there was a fire drill planned. Cooper said he was enjoying seeing what school was like through the eyes of an adult.
Salvino came dressed to spend classroom time with sixth graders. He had on jeans and carried a backpack. He attended language arts, math, essay classes, had lunch and was worrying about a social studies test planned for the afternoon. He was looking forward to playing basketball in physical education.
"I’ve been doing Cooper’s work for the day," he said. "I’ve written a poem and worked with mean, median and mode in math class. Cooper told me at the beginning of the day he wanted me to take plenty of notes and to at least try to do one assignment. Cooper is well organized. He carries one big back pack with two smaller ones. He puts his morning assignments in one of the smaller ones and the afternoon classes in the other one."
Salvino said the most surprising thing he found out is how hard it is to get from one place to another in the school.
"It’s been pretty eye opening from my stand point," he said. "I’ve sat in on teachers for evaluations but sitting in the classrooms today really opened my eyes to how much our teachers do and how good they are."