Shadow a Student Challenge: A Student's Perspective

By: Amanda Christian

Amanda Christian discussing the Shadow a Student ChallengeAs a Frederick County Public Schools' student, I'm presented with many opportunities and I like to take advantage of them. Schools Superintendent Dr. David Sovine approached me in January 2017 and asked if he could shadow me as part of the Shadow a Student Challenge. The Shadow a Student Challenge enables school leaders to follow a student throughout a regular school day in order to see school through their eyes.

My initial response was, "Wow, that's a huge honor, I would love to," but I also thought that, perhaps, Dr. Savine didn't know what he was getting himself into. Before the big day, I was excited because I knew that my rigorous schedule was going to be an eye-opening experience for Dr. Sovine.

Looking ahead, I knew it was going to be a long day for the both of us. First, I had a senior class officer meeting at 7 a.m., nearly an hour before my school day begins. From there, I had AP English 12 and AP Calculus BC. I then had a short study hall and a mere 20 minutes for lunch. After lunch, I had my AP Spanish V class followed by dual-enrolled Honors Human Anatomy and Physiology which ended at 2:30 p.m. The end of classes isn't the end of my day. After my last class, I normally have an hour break to eat a snack, work on homework, or take a nap before basketball practice. Dr. Sovine indicated he wanted to participate in my basketball practice as well as classes, but I think he may have underestimated what was to come. During the varsity girls' basketball season, we have practice every day from 4:30-6:30 p.m. On nights that we have a practice, I don't get home until 7 p.m. When we have a game, I normally get home between 9 and 11 p.m. which makes it difficult to squeeze in dinner, homework, and a shower while still getting a decent amount of sleep for school the next day.

When Dr. Sovine showed up at James Wood High School just before 7 a.m. on the day of the Shadow a Student Challenge, he looked rejuvenated and excited. I knew that by 6:30 p.m., I would likely see a different Superintendent-one who had gone through a long and trying day of classes and extracurricular activities. Throughout the day, I noticed that Dr. Sovine was committed to immersing himself completely in the life of a student and played an active role in my classes. While he didn't fully understand or remember some of the curriculum, Dr. Sovine tried to soak in every lesson and embraced the perspectives of students and staff. When it came time for basketball practice, Dr. Sovine was eager to participate and refused to give up, even though he wasn't conditioned for a practice like we were.

I am incredibly grateful to have been selected to represent all students and share my school day with Dr. Sovine. The day validated how much Dr. Sovine wants to better understand the lives of the students attending Frederick County Public Schools. He was challenged and pushed to his limits during the 12-hour day, but I never saw him give up on achieving his mission of spending a day like a regular student. I can't say how a day like mine compares to a day as the Superintendent, but something tells me that they both have their challenges. I think Dr. Sovine's participation in the Shadow a Student Challenge says a lot about him and his dedication to our school system.