Spotlights
Catching a Glimpse of the Future
Baltimore County business leaders peek inside BCPS schools and the life of a principal this week
02/25/2015

Catching a Glimpse of the Future

For Rick Johnson, the moment came during the middle of chemistry class. Observing the class Tuesday alongside Dulaney High School Principal Lynda Whitlock, Johnson, a business development representative with the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, watched Dulaney students prepare to review homework.

“All right, everyone,” the teacher called to his class of student-scientists, “take out your phones and check your work.”

Johnson recalled the moment as one of the revelations of his “Principal for a Day” experience. “I wasn’t ready for that,” he said. “I sure don’t remember doing that when I was a student here 30 years ago.”  

Indeed, Johnson was struck by the prevalence of technology throughout Dulaney during his visit, part of a weeklong “Principal for a Day” initiative designed to offer business leaders throughout Baltimore County an insider’s look at how students are being prepared for the rigors of the work world and a global marketplace.

“What I’ve seen is that the school is really going above and beyond in terms of making sure these students have the skills they need to be successful and find their place in society,” said Johnson, whose job allows him to work with and hear from companies and businesses across Baltimore County, all with an eye toward measuring their workforce needs and finding ways to meet them.

Across Baltimore County this week, Johnson’s experience will be replicated through the “Principal for a Day” program. Business leaders will pair with principals at their local schools or with those schools where partnerships already exist to sit in on classes, ask questions, learn about the county’s curriculum and instructional innovations such as S.T.A.T. (Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow), and talk with educators and students about preparing for careers.

The “Principal for a Day” idea sprung from interest expressed by members of the superintendent’s Business Advisory Council, which meets monthly with BCPS Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest to the business and education communities. In addition to helping to educate business leaders about BCPS education, the campaign also seeks to strengthen the ties between the school system and Baltimore County’s vibrant business community.

“We’ve enjoyed it as well,” said Dulaney Principal Whitlock. “It has allowed us to talk about our schools and the opportunities we offer students and to hear from the business community about how better to work with them. I’m delighted any time we can show everything that Dulaney has to offer.”

Johnson said he would recommend the experience to any of his business contacts. In addition to observing how integrated educational technology is now in the classroom, he said he also observed how diverse the Dulaney student body had become and how specialized many of the course offerings are now. Knowing that Dulaney teaches a heating-ventilation-air conditioning unit, he added, was just the thing that would pique the interest of many of his fellow business leaders.

“The instruction is far, far away at a higher level now than when I went here,” he said. “These students are learning how to adapt to a changing world, and the curriculum is adapting right along with them.”

Story and photos by Charles Herndon, BCPS Communications Specialist
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