Former Problem Student Makes ‘Principal for a Day’

June 10, 2013 Updated: June 12, 2013

VICTORIA, Australia—June 6 was national “Student Principal for a Day” and Victoria’s Northside Christian College year 10 student John Dibah – known to principal Stephen Leslie for all the wrong reasons – was selected for the “shadow principal” role.

Principal Leslie said John was given the honour over more than 200 students for a couple of reasons.

“Two years ago, John I think was a student who didn’t quite know what he was on about.

“He had some problems, he used to get angry a lot, he wasn’t doing his work very well… many times he has come into this office, but it’s not been for a good reason.

“But in the last year, there have been big changes in him and I see him as a young man who has leadership potential. I think he will be a leader of the future. And so I thought this would be a great opportunity for him to see.”

“Student Principal for a Day” was launched by Principals Australia Institute (PAI), which facilitates over 100 students around Australia switching places with their principals.

CEO of PAI Jim Davies said he hoped that the day would focus attention on the value and importance of quality school leadership.

“I think that ‘Student Principal for a Day’ will serve as a catalyst to showcase the important role that principals play not only in our schools, but also in our communities.

“As a principal, I know how important it is to provide young people with opportunities to stretch their capacity as thinkers and leaders,” said Mr Davies, in a media release.

A variety of interactive tasks for the honorary principals are made possible – back at Northside Christian College, after John was introduced at the school’s morning assembly, he spent time learning the school’s digital management system and speaking to students and answering their questions in class.

After just two hours in the job, John’s opinion of principal Leslie changed. “Because I didn’t know the kind of work you used to do, we never used to see you around. It was like, where’s Mr Leslie? Now, we see you do hard work.

“If in the future I’m looking at becoming a principal for the school, at least I will have an understanding of what’s happening and how it runs,” he said.