SNELLVILLE - Joy Mitchell fondly remembers spending time outside under the big oak tree on Britt Elementary's playground.
Mitchell returned to her alma mater Tuesday as the school's Principal for a Day, where she greeted students as they arrived at school and visited classrooms to see teaching and learning in action.
"It's so exciting," said Mitchell, the president and co-owner of Office Creations, an office furniture store in Suwanee. "When I walked through the door, it just made me smile."
The Principal for a Day program, a joint venture of Gwinnett County Public Schools and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, pairs business and community leaders with school principals, allowing the executives to observe the rewards and challenges that come with being the instructional and managerial leader of a public school.
Now in its fifth year, the Principal for a Day program this week will bring 110 community members into the schools.
"It's a great opportunity for members of the community to come inside the school and see what goes on inside our classrooms," Britt Elementary principal Doris Jones said.
It's important for the community to be involved with the schools, Mitchell said.
"The more the community can be involved, the better the schools are going to be, the better our community is going to be (and) the better our state will be," she said. "And it starts in the elementary schools."
Mitchell said her return to Britt Elementary showed her why the county's schools have such a great reputation. She noted the passion the teachers have for educating the children and the technology available to help the students learn.
She recalled the teachers at Britt, Snellville Middle and South Gwinnett High who helped shape her dreams when she was a student. Before school began, Mitchell and Jones recorded a video message for students.
"Work hard," Mitchell said. "Dreams are as big as you see them. Nothing is impossible. If you can dream it, you can do it."