Five teachers will be “students” for a day

Spencer Kincaid

Mr. Miller’s students give advice on how to be a student for a day. Photo courtesy of James Miller


Principal Jerry Mayes introduced Student For A Day (SFAD), in which five Manual teachers will take the role as regular Manual students on Thursday, Jan. 22 (Red Day) and Friday, Jan. 23 (White Day).

Ms. Megan Gatewood (Science), Ms. Liz Palmer (Journalism), Mr. James Miller (Journalism), Ms. Connie Wilcox  (Humanities) and Ms. Rebecca Donahoe (English) received regular class schedules, and starting Thursday they are to report to their classes and follow the same procedures as the rest of the student body such as eating lunch in the cafeteria and bringing required class supplies.

Mayes got the inspiration for SFAD from a Washington Post article about a retired public high school teacher in Washington, D.C. who undertook a similar project. Mayes wants to better understand some potential issues students may face.

“My goal is to make these four years the best four years of your life,” Mayes said. “I thought to try and look at things from a student’s perspective, from the simplest things like sitting in the back of the room and not being able to read the marker on the whiteboard. I thought this would be a good way for (the teachers) to understand on a visceral level what it is like to be a student at Manual from the standpoint of the amount of homework and other demands.”

Each teacher has a unique schedule set up to imitate that of a student of a particular grade and magnet. For example, Ms. Palmer will be a freshman YPAS student and Ms. Wilcox will be a senior HSU student.

“The idea is to walk in your shoes a little bit and to understand what is going on with you guys,” Mayes said. “We want a better understanding and hopefully we can do a better job of getting you guys where you need to be.”

The five teachers will use Twitter throughout the day to personally live tweet their experience with the hashtag #SFAD. Mayes sent a press release to local news organizations, and a reporter from the Courier Journal newspaper plans to visit Manual to report on SFAD.

“The idea is for them to have an ongoing thought process of ‘how am I feeling right now?’ and ‘When do I go into the cafeteria who am I going to sit with?’,” Mayes said.

The teachers will have a briefing and reflect on their experience the following Monday. They will do a presentation to the PTSA and to the faculty as to what they have seen and learned.

“They are going to tell us the great things that happened, and they are going to tell us the things that maybe we need to look at and do a better job of,” Mayes said.