Military members from Naval Air Station Lemoore (NASL) participated in the Principal for a Day program with Lemoore middle schools and high schools, Tuesday.

The Principal for a Day program provided the base Commanding Officer, Capt. David James, base Executive Officer Cmdr. John Brattain and base Air Operations Officer, Cmdr. Darren Fouts with an opportunity to shadow high school and middle school principals in Lemoore to share ideas, learn about the schools’ day-to-day operations and reinforce the ties between the base and surrounding community.

“The relationship between our base and the area schools is one of the most important relationships we can maintain,” said Margaret Gladders, base school liaison officer. “When families move to Lemoore, schools are at the top of their list of things they want to know more about, so it’s really important for the base to be involved with the community and participate in programs like this because it demonstrates a commitment, not only to the surrounding schools, but also to the community.”

Participating schools were Lemoore High School, University Charter and Liberty Middle School. Command leadership arrived at participating schools at approximately 8 a.m. and learned about the multiple roles schools managers assume.

Fouts visited University Charter School, where he received a chance see, first-hand, how Principal Chris Camarena does business. He also had an opportunity to speak to a couple of classes and related applicability of academic material covered in middle school to real-world scenarios while at the same time stressing the importance of working hard and treating everybody with dignity and respect.

“Both organizations have tremendous responsibility with regard to the individuals they oversee. While the ages and responsibilities are vastly different between service members and students, the underlying principles of leadership are universally applicable,” said Fouts. “The biggest thing is consistency. Service members will interpret leadership the way they want to see when it, so it’s important for leaders to continually maintain the standard and avoid sending mixed messages.”

“Consistency is a key component of how we provide support for our students and help them learn,” said Luis. “I always think of school as a safe learning environment where kids can make mistakes. It’s also an opportunity for us to help them through those mistakes.”

Liberty Middle School’s principal Ben Luis hosted Brattain for a day of classroom visits, meeting students, teacher training followed up by real-world classroom application. After spending most of the morning together, Brattain and Luis noted the similarities of their positions with regard to working with and leading people.

“The whole idea of working with teachers, and helping them become better at their craft so that they can be better for our students, is something that requires critique, work and coordination.” said Luis. “I think the military does something like that. You teach others how to teach, but it’s more than that. It’s teaching others to be leaders.”

“Are there similarities between what he does and I do? I would say absolutely. Leadership is leadership, wherever you go,” said Brattain. “For instance, it’s not always about how well you can fly the jet. A lot of what goes on in the squadrons is how well you can teach others to fly the jet. The same holds true here in the school: How well can you teach and how well can you teach others to teach. That is ultimately a question of leadership.”

Rodney Brumit, Lemoore High School principal, escorted James on a full tour of the campus that included a visit to the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) unit where the commanding officer shared some sea stories and lessons learned from more than 20 years in the Naval Service. James also visited a class on those interested in entering the field of nursing as well as visiting the Passport Program office.

“We both wear a lot of hats. We both have a lot of different departments that are very diverse, whether it’s academics or athletics or maintenance, the school needs all of them to run,” said Brumit. You [James] were talking about how you had a fire department and public works department and a security department. For both of us, it’s probably a lot like running small cities.”

“Mentorship is also a key similarity…mentoring young Sailors and students is one of the most rewarding aspects of our jobs,” said James. “When speaking to the NJROTC students, they expected me to talk about flying jets and being a pilot. They didn’t expect me to talk about counseling young Sailors, making that connection and watching them make the right choices and do the right thing in their lives.”

Brumit echoed that sentiment. “It’s the same thing here. We see a kid that might be struggling with something, and you get to make a connection with that guy or gal, and then see them grow and thrive. That’s the real reward. That’s why we do what we do.”

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