FIU leaders serve as Principal for a Day at local schools


From surrealism to dancing to learning about solubility, Director of FIU Community Relations James Knapp’s day as a principal at Sweetwater Elementary was memorable.

Sweetwater Elementary and FIU have a long-standing partnership that incorporates lessons from the Frost Art Museum and leverages other university resources, including tutoring to benefit the school. Through their collaboration, Sweetwater Elementary was able to achieve the STEAM designation from the county and students from Sweetwater Elementary regularly attend events on campus.

To celebrate the partnership, Sweetwater Elementary School Principal Janet Olivera asked Knapp to join her as Principal for a Day, a Miami-Dade County Public Schools initiative.

“The partnership between FIU and Sweetwater Elementary is a model of collaboration which provides unique educational experiences for the students at our school,” said Olivera.

Just a few blocks away, Miguel Asencio, director of the FIU’s Digital Library of the Caribbean, also served as principal at Carlos J. Finlay Elementary, alongside Principal Marie Orth-Sanchez. Asencio has been working with the school on a program called FIU Jr. Scholars that allows 4th and 5th graders from Finlay to take classes at FIU once a month.

Individuals like Asencio and Knapp who have expertise and interests that can benefit the school community and are willing to leverage professional and personal resources to support their partner school are invited to participate in Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ (M-DCPS) Principal today.

The purpose of the initiative is to engage the private sector to take a leadership role in public education and encourage each participant to translate their one-day experience into a long-term relationship that enhances the learning environment of their partner school and supports student achievement.

Knapp and Asencio were two of six leaders across FIU’s two campuses to serve at different schools.

FIU’s work with local schools and the M-DCPS extends past Principal for Day. For the past 7 years, FIU has collaborated with M-DCPS through a partnership known as ACCESS and regularly works with different schools across the county through programs such as the Education Effect, dual enrollment and after-school enrichment initiatives.

Following their school visit, FIU principals will continue to engage with each of the school and find opportunities enhance academic achievement and will work to develop resources that support the schools were they served.