State Representative Walker Becomes ‘Principal for a Day’ at Holmes
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to run an entire school for a day? Have you ever gotten the chance to work with students and staff on scheduling the day’s activities or get students safely home from school?
The Illinois Principals Association (IPA) “Principal for a Day” program provides state and federal legislators this opportunity firsthand. Principals and other administrators are encouraged to build and refine relationships with their local representatives, who visit schools in their legislative district. This opportunity is intended to promote continued collaboration among legislators and educators.
Holmes Junior High Principal Mark Rasar said he wanted to engage local representatives in the work happening at Holmes.
“Legislators make decisions each term that can positively or negatively impact the lives of our teachers and students,” said Rasar. “It is vital to our success as schools to build partnerships between our government representatives, students, teachers, and administrators to create informed laws for the betterment of our society.”
State Representative Mark L. Walker (D) of the 53rd District got his chance at being “Principal for a Day” at Holmes on Tuesday, October 15. Rep. Walker shadowed Rasar on a tour of classrooms, taught a lesson to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade social studies students, met with teachers for an open discussion about the state of education, and served as a bus supervisor at dismissal.
In his lesson with students, Rep. Walker explained a recent law passed in California that impacted students directly — starting the school day later in the morning. He asked students to act as representatives, cast their vote, and explain the pros and cons of their decision and why they voted as they did. Students were also tasked with coming up with what the next steps would be in the legislative process.
Students had intricate, well-thought-out responses to his questions while posing Walker many of their own.
“The Holmes students I met were focused, smart, and knowledgeable about the challenges we face as a community,” said Rep. Walker. “They give me hope for the future.”
When a teacher asked what advice he would have for students to get involved with their communities’ legislature and how to make a difference, Rep. Walker quickly answered: “Study history!” He gave examples of how he looks at historical information and visits the library to help understand current issues. He also told the students that most current debates have some type of precedent they can review to expand their viewpoint.
“I hope the students took from my presentation that they can also work in politics and state government and play a role in making Illinois proud.”
Rasar said Rep. Walker commented he was truly impressed by our teachers and was interested in what the kids were learning. While touring the school, Rep. Walker remembered one particular teacher, Mrs. Anays Hernandez, whom he had met over twelve years ago and warmly greeted her. He told Rasar that Mrs. Hernandez was a pioneer of Dual Language instruction and that he still remembered visiting her classroom.
This is just one example of the impression that Holmes staff left on him.
“That the teachers are so proud of their profession, and rightly so,” Rep. Walker said.