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D Academy Fellow Becomes a Principal for a Day

Students greeted Brooke at Molina High School.

Students greeted Brooke at Molina High School.

Each year, Dallas ISD opens its door to community members and invites them to be Principals for a Day. After signing up, people are assigned to schools, and for one day (or a few hours), the principals hand over the keys to their school. Over the next few days, we’ll be sharing experiences from D Academy fellows who participated in PFAD2014.

First up is Brooke Traister, vice president at Tucker & Associates.

Molina High School, a 2,000-student campus in southwestern Dallas, impressed me on many levels on Tuesday. After morning announcements, I accompanied Principal Mark Ramirez on several spot observations, and he told me about the positive changes he’s seen since taking the helm five years ago. Among them, he’s made it a priority for every student to show up with proper supplies and ID, ready to learn. That seemingly small step was actually a big hurdle, and it contributes to the school’s focus on college and career readiness.

Besides core classes, Molina students also have the option of pursuing architecture, culinary arts or audiovisual/graphic design career pathways, and I was encouraged to see the level of training in these programs. In one architecture class, the instructor led a captivating discussion on eco-conscious design, while culinary arts students were learning cooking, menu development and restaurant management by running the school’s MJ’s Café (where we had lunch). Some organizations, like the Dallas Zoo, have even stepped up to offer part-time employment for students of these programs, and Principal Ramirez would like to see more of these opportunities from the Dallas business community. As a professional in PR, I enjoyed talking with journalism and yearbook students about job opportunities in my field.

I left Molina heartened by the engagement of students in many of the classes we visited. Principal Ramirez and his staff are my new heroes, and I look forward to working with them for Big D Reads in the spring. —Brooke Traister

Molina High School Principal Mark Ramirez with Principal (for a Day) Brooke Traister.

Molina High School Principal Mark Ramirez with Principal (for a Day) Brooke Traister.

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