Oct. 27, 2023 - The seventh-grade class at Church Hill Middle School grew by one student on Wednesday, Oct. 25, when Comal Independent School District’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. John E. Chapman III joined the class as a student for the day.
“Stepping into the shoes of a student for a day, is a great way to remember what is feels like to be a kid and to sit in a classroom, walk the hallways, eat in the cafeteria and ride a bus,” says Dr. Chapman, who recently celebrated one year as Comal ISD’s superintendent.
“As an educator, it is important to never forget what it is like to be a student, and as a superintendent, it is even more important because ultimately, we are making decisions that affect their futures.”
The superintendent’s day began with a bus ride to school. Carrying a backpack, the new CHMS Panther was given his schedule upon arrival and got to work. In the beginning of the day, fellow students were quiet and a little anxious around him, but soon they were talking to him and sharing ideas along with a few of their challenges.
“It was kind of cool to see a grown-up act like a kid,” says Anabel Grijalva, a seventh-grade student at CHMS. “Usually, when a teacher comes into a classroom, they have their own desk, but he sat in a regular kid’s chair. It was different to see him walk around and say, ‘hi,’ to kids not as an administrator, but as a student.”
Students were always willing to help the new guy. Hudson Schmidtberger, also a seventh-grade student at CHMS, had a few classes with Dr. Chapman and gave him the inside scoop on the cafeteria lines.
“It was fun showing him what we do on a daily basis,” Schmidtberger says. “I thought he would be very serious, but we got along well and talked together easily.”
The students were the highlight of the day for Dr. Chapman too. He was given every assignment that his fellow students were given, and his schedule included athletics, math, art, construction (wood shop), Texas history and English.
“The most positive part of the day for me was being in the classroom,” Dr. Chapman says. “If students saw me struggle in any way, they wanted to help. I had kids bring me the necessary tools that I needed in any given class including a Chromebook and a book that they were reading. They were always looking over their shoulders to be sure that I had all the accommodations I needed to be successful.”
The teachers were impressed by the new student as well.
“As educators, it is paramount that we prioritize our students, as they are the very purpose of our profession,” says Robert Jimenez, who teaches construction at CHMS where he has been for 16 years. “Their needs and interests should serve as guiding principles when making decisions that will inevitably impact their educational experience. What better way to foster a more inclusive and student-centered school environment than by emphatically embracing their point of view.
“It was great seeing Dr. Chapman in wood shop, and even better that he was willing to get his hands dirty with the students. He is welcome in my class any time.”
-Riding the bus to and from school was part of being a Student for a Day for Comal ISD Superintendent Dr. John E. Chapman III who spent the day as a student at Church Hill Middle School on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
-Comal ISD Superintendent Dr. John E. Chapman III sits with fellow Church Hill Middle School student Hudson Schmidtberger in art class during his day as a seventh-grade student Wednesday, Oct. 25.
-Church Hill Middle School construction teacher Robert Jimenez gives Comal ISD Superintendent Dr. John E. Chapman III a few pointers during class on Wednesday, Oct. 25. Dr. Chapman spent the day as a student at CHMS.
-Comal ISD Superintendent Dr. John E. Chapman III spent the day as a seventh-grade student Wednesday, Oct. 25, at Church Hill Middle School.