Principal for a Day: Garden Hills Elementary welcomes Jim Alexander, Sam Massell

Amy Wilson, Sam Massell and Jim Alexander visit a Garden Hills classroom.
Sam Massell and Jim Alexander came in from a cold and wet outside to find a bright and cheery atmosphere at Garden Hills Elementary as the school’s honorary Principals for a Day (PFAD). Massell is the Buckhead Coalition president and former Atlanta mayor, while Alexander is senior vice president for business development with Harry Norman Realtors. They spent the morning touring classrooms, observing students and teachers hard at work, and even took some time to read to the children.

The dynamic duo started out the day meeting with Garden Hills Principal Amy Wilson  and staff, learning about the school’s population that might be the most reflective of Atlanta’s demographic; the school’s challenging academic curriculum; and the nurturing environment that focuses on the whole education of the child. They toured the classrooms separately and individually with the help of Wilson and Garden Hills student body president, fifth-grader Cade Lawson.

Jim Alexander reads Room on the Broom to Diana LeRay's kindergarten class.

Alexander later read Room on the Broom to Diana LeRay‘s kindgergarten class as Garden Hills PTA Co-President Rebecca Galla-Jones looked on. The class later sang “I Think You’re Wonderful” to an appreciative Alexander. The Realtor later joined Massell on other classroom visits, where they saw how Garden Hills carries out APS’ commitment to differentiated instruction. This is where teachers often split classes into different groups of students with different needs.

They were both excited at the opportunity to share their positive experiences at Garden Hills with prospective clients.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Alexander, himself a former elementary school principal in Memphis. “But it’s quite an experience to see great teachers doing a great job. If people would come out and experience this for themselves, they’d think twice before choosing a private school.”

Massell delighted Joanna Tray‘ second-grade class with a few of his legendary magic tricks. Massell knows his way around Garden Hills; along with being a Buckhead neighbor, Massell had a daughter attend the school. Massell also has been volunteering as a Principal for a Day since its inception.

Buckkead Coalition President Sam Massell performs a magic trick for students in Kaytee Roberts' second-grade classroom.

“This experience shows me the constantly improving quality that’s evident at APS, and that the teachers are committed to providing a quality education,” said Massell. As he’s watched first-time PFAD honorees toured the schools, “They’re always impressed that the public schools are better than the image they had before. It’s been obvious in each case that our volunteers search for ways they can help a school after visiting. They realize that it’s a two-way street; if you want good public education, the community has to support it.”

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