Shadow a Student Series – Two for the Road

Happy summer!  I hope you’re using this time to relax and refresh and to enrich the lives of the young people around you.

 If you have been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that I issued a Shadow a Student Challenge to administrators back in the spring.  It was an opportunity during a pretty hectic time of year for administrators to get out and see, in a very personal way, both the fruits of their labor and if there were any ways in which their efforts might be refined for the good of our students. Things got so busy around the excitement of end-of-year celebrations and graduation, that two of our shadowing experiences didn’t make it to the blog before summer break.  As a result, I thought it would be a good time to share them with you. I’m thankful to these dedicated administrators who took the challenge!

Guest Blogger: Dr. Sheli Porter, Director of Secondary Teaching and Learning

I shadowed Aaron Acevedo, a charismatic senior at Oscar Smith High School. Aaron has received a full-ride scholarship to Randolph Macon College, where he will play football AND major in Biology in the hopes of becoming an athletic trainer one day.

 What were some examples of empathy you felt during the day?
I observed students who were very helpful and supportive to others but didn’t want attention drawn to themselves. I witnessed students caring for one another throughout the day. Other students were making authentic connections with their teachers. Some students appeared very confident, but eager for validation from peers. I observed many of our seniors being excited about their upcoming graduation, but at the same time appeared a bit fearful of what was to come. I overheard one senior say, “I’m not quite ready for this to be over.”

What student needs are you motivated to address after shadowing? What actions do you intend to take as a result?
After talking with the students and staff during this experience, I will continue to advocate support for:

  • Providing more laptops/devices for our high school students. According to the students, “notebook paper, textbooks, and binders really won’t be as necessary in the future. It IS almost 2020.”
  • Encouraging the use of more flexible learning spaces in and out of the classroom settings. This is where the real learning and application of knowledge occurs.
  • Incorporating more opportunities to collaborate and connect in our curriculum offerings. Again, stronger outcomes occur when collaboration and connections are made. Doing this well is worth the investment of money and time!


Guest Blogger: Mrs. Michelle Ferebee, Principal of Carver Intermediate School

I shadowed Calvin Gordon a 3rd-grade student at G.W. Carver Intermediate.  I met Calvin at his bus stop and met his sister and little brother.  His mother stood with us until we boarded the bus. Calvin proved to be kind, energetic, witty, and eager to do his classwork.

How did it feel to be a student in your building for a day?
At the beginning of the day, I felt anxious, like it was my first day of school as a third grader.  I had to choose the right backpack and supplies; be on time to catch the bus; share seats with my schoolmates; walk in a straight line down the hall; steer clear of any loud hallway conversations; etc.  However, throughout the day, I assume I wondered the same as most students such as, “When is lunch?” “What and who will I play with during recess?” “How did I do on my math assessment?” (I did complete a math test – yikes!).  By the end of the day, I was ready to load the bus to complete my school day because I was TIRED.

Do you plan on shadowing again? If so, what would you do differently and what would you do the same?
I do plan to shadow again and I plan to begin and end with the bus ride to and from school.  What I would do differently is to thoroughly explain to all staff members the expectations during the shadowing experience so that everyone in the building is of one accord.