Elkins serves as Principal for a Day at Strode Station

Published 1:30 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

From outside the building, last Tuesday, Nov. 14, may have appeared to be any other day at Strode Station Elementary School on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Yet inside, something quite interesting was taking place.

State Sen. Greg Elkins served as the Principal for a Day, having a chance to explore what happens in today’s elementary classrooms first-hand.

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“This is my first Principal for a Day. [I’ve] really enjoyed it,” Elkins said. “It’s a bit eye-opening, so that’s been helpful to me.”

The Principal for a Day Program, implemented primarily via the action of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, is designed to allow legislators or other public figures an opportunity to learn about daily ongoings inside Kentucky schools and, therefore, build stronger partnerships with public educators.

Last year, Strode Station Elementary School brought in then-Senator Ralph Alvarado for the occasion.

When Senator Elkins was sworn in this May following a special election after Alvarado’s resignation, Strode Station Elementary School Principal Ruthann Sharrock was again on board to have a state senator visit the school.

“I think it’s a great idea. I think anytime we can get anybody into the schools to see what’s going on, it’s a benefit for both them and for us,” Sharrock said. “I appreciate Senator Elkins giving up his day to come in and see what my day is like.”

In doing so, he spent much of his time observing other teachers’ classrooms.

While acknowledging that interaction between students and teachers has remained much the same, Senator Elkins – who will turn sixty in 2024 – noted that instruction has changed some.

“It’s more group-oriented. When I was in school, students took their seat. They were encouraged to sit quietly and take instruction,” Elkins said. “Here, they work in groups, and they’re encouraged to talk to each other [and] talk to one another.”

He further noted that it could be very effective post-pandemic in such an environment where teachers also maintain control of the classroom.

“We had…about three grades of students who didn’t have classroom instruction for about two or three years, so they didn’t learn to communicate with one another,” Elkins said. “I think it helps…bridge that gap that we created during the pandemic.”

Along with observing the classrooms, Senator Elkins, a businessman and the CEO of Waste Services of the Bluegrass, saw and spoke with Principal Sharrock about an administrator’s many responsibilities.

When asked if he felt there were similarities between the two jobs, such observations proved informative.

“In both my day job and her job, we both have limited funds and we always need more. You’re always trying to make more money or receive more money,” Elkins said. “We all have limited funds, and directing them to where they need to go, I think, is probably the biggest similarity.”

Elkins, who will continue in the program by spending time reading to classrooms in Fayette County during the next two weeks, believes the experience now can serve him well in Frankfort.

“I ran on an education-type platform. I was very concerned about children and education,” Elkins said. “[This], I think, is going to be very helpful to me come session time.”

He also noted that the level of care seen by faculty is evident.

“Watching the classrooms and the interaction between the students and teachers is very comforting to see,” Elkins said.