Q: First off, what inspired you to become a principal?
A: Well, you start by becoming a teacher, by having an interest in children. Then the natural ambition of most of us in the field is to progress to a higher level of responsibility. Part of it is a matter of ambition and part of it is a matter of pride, to have larger areas of authority, to develop your ideas of how children should be taught and to create an environment in which many teachers work together for the benefit of the child. Which means that you have a cooperative effort in various phases of the child's development. By being a principal you can set policies, you can formulate and work on new ideas. You can experiment with children and you can enjoy observing whether or not your ideas are workable and valuable or not either and, therefore, it might be better to pursue some other course of events.
Q: What was the school like where you first started teaching? Was that the same school of which you eventually became principal?
A: I was in a small high school area to begin with. I took extra work to become a credited in the state of Oregon. Then I took an opening job and from there moved to a larger school after two years. After three and a half years, I moved to a much larger school where I stayed the rest of my life. Again the matter of enjoying more responsibility, increased pay and better working conditions are all factors that everyone more or less recognizes in their own life. By this time, I had a firm feeling that education should be adapted to the needs of the children rather than just a continuation of what has always has been a schedule of learning or grade development. And I might illustrate the fact that in the elementary program, the incoming group of youngsters may vary greatly in their ability to learn and in their maturity; it is important, if possible, to devise systems or methods where by the youngster who comes in as a six year old has a chance to be successful. To meet material and teachers who recognize that he may be either slower or faster than the average child. Teachers who will adopt a program that will facilitate or encourage the fast or the slow youngster. I think that says why I became interested in elementary education at that time. Becoming a principal was an attempt to try out some ideas that I had, such as the preliminary processes of a democratic school system in which children can be a part of their own discipline, and a part of their own rule making and a part of their own primitive interest in the exploration in many subjects. It's on their level, of course, but I can stimulate their desire to learn and create situations in which it's fun to learn. That facilitates learning.
Q: What was the building like?
A: Most of the buildings in which I worked were very stereotyped. That is, there was so much square footage, I don't recall what it was, that was necessary for each child to have. The buildings were very traditional. They had lots of lighting and the use of lots of different uses of building materials, which were not always adequate but through the process of time and being used by children determined whether they were good or bad. For instance, for a while glass bricks were in vogue, but this created a very difficult situation in bright sunlight because warmth was drawn into the room. Later, different types of glass material and glass structure was used in building school buildings. My particular time was the 1950's. At that time there was beginning to be a rapid increase in the numbers of children coming into the area in which I lived; also, many of the buildings that had previously been used were now pretty well obsolete. They were not large enough nor well equipped enough for modern teaching methods. During that time, different types of desks were manufactured and sold and different types of school supplies. People experimented. SO we, too, bought individual type desks or tandem desks to see whether or not they were more advantageous than straight-backed desks. It's interesting because, it was a time when you felt there had to be sufficient separation between seats so the children did not copy one from the other. With the flexible room, you could move the seats about. If you wanted to move some children in a kind of a grouping, which caused no embarrassment to any of the children, you could do that, or you could group them according to their interest level or their subject matter. Educational processes were in a period of experimentation and there was lots of room to experiment. That was part of the fun of primary education. I think my main interest in primary education was that it was so fundamental in the learning process. It was a place where a child should feel happy, comfortable and successful. If that was neglected, then it was a situation that continued on, the child could become resentful. That type of failure was a serious handicap for him later on in the learning process. So, if I can recapitulate, I think my interest in primary education and elementary education was that it was the beginning; therefore, very important and very strategic for the child, as well as for the parents for whom it was their first experience with a child in a school environment. The parents needed to be supportive of the child and feel that a school was doing it's best to meet the needs of all its children.
Q: You had said something about the children taking an act in their own educational process, and their own pursuit of education. was your role then with the children was a fairly informal, friendly one where you stood back?
A: Yes, pretty much so. There needs to be some self direction, but there also must and can be a place where the child can participate. If its something he is investigating, like the history of his school house, for instance, or the history of the area, he could talk to his parents about their interests or he could interview, depending on his age level, old settlers in the area and find a lot of interesting stories that they could tell. He could then learn to repeat them to other children or write them out or use them as a process in which he was creating something no one else was doing. There were not particular guidelines with which he had to contend. He or she was free to do what ever felt good. Naturally their investigation of that and of their little science projects depended entirely upon their own ability to be ingenious and think of questions and seek answers. I well remember that as a teacher and as a teaching principal, we had a great deal of fun in our mathematics classes. We had contests with each other. By manipulation of the times tables and speed tests on them, we keep records of how they improved. The improvement was the amazing thing. If a slower child was making a good improvement it was as much satisfaction as the improvement of the brighter one who naturally learned much easier and who's home environment might have been considerably different and better for him. I think that pretty well answers your question. I believe in allowing for experimentation, ingenuity and the fun of being complemented for the work that's well done, and much of it was well done. The teacher could then learn a great deal about the background of the child and his family life and that's very helpful too.
Q: You have said a lot about the children you ran into or your relationship with them, what about the teachers, the faculty?
A: When I started in the teaching field, it was very difficult to find enough qualified teachers. It was not too long after World War II and society's emphasis was on war and preparation for war so that there were not too many graduates. Many who had graduated went into war efforts or were into active participation in the war, so it was very difficult to maintain the quality of the teaching staff you would have liked to have. Often times you would create a learning situation with seminars and the bringing in of county wide conferences with people who were specialists in teaching certain subjects. At that particular time, the emphasis on science took a great leap forward. Russia had launched its first Sputnik which startled the American public because the Russians were way ahead of us in science, so we began to stress that in our curriculum. We looked for teachers that came out of civilian life with certain backgrounds and certain personalities. We tried to help them become good teachers. Often times you had to hire and then release people who were just not teacher material. For their sake and for the sake of the children, you were able to remove them by recommendation to the school board which is much more difficult now. It had some drawbacks, too. If a principal was prejudice for some personal reason against the teacher, he could often manufacture enough material to have the teacher released. That was a bad beginning in my program and something that has been remedied. Teachers now have many more rights. They have the right to be heard and have a legal responsibility that is written into teacher contracts now. By the same token, it's assumed that they are much better prepared. They come out of teacher training programs and from school programs that have higher requirements. We can be much more selective, of course, when you have a large number of applicants for jobs. When, how much and how soon that will change no one knows. It depends the maturity of populations, rates of birth and so forth.
Q: You had to personally dismiss a teacher or several teachers?
A: Yes, over a long period of time there were teachers that I dismissed. It was of course my own judgement and I felt that of necessity it had to be very objective. It was not always a pleasant task but for the sake of a good school system and for the sake of the children, it had to be done. It's unfortunate that it has to be done but you cannot always screen out the qualities of a teacher even in a teacher training program. Somebody has to do it and it was important to have it done. There are lots of ways of measuring whether or not a teacher is doing a satisfactory job, particularly when you are in a school system that isn't too large. For instance, a teacher will have a youngster one year, a student of average intelligence and if the student is poorly prepared to go into the next level or the next grade, or by comparing the progress of that particular group of children from this particular teaching program and if it is below what should be the average, it becomes pretty evident that there is a problem. You also learn to use the comments of parents and other teachers. Sometimes other teachers become disgusted with the inability of a teacher to adequately prepare a child at the lower level. When that happens, a teacher has the additional job of going back and repeating something that the child should have learned in a previous grade. So it is justifiable to dismiss poorly qualified teachers, but it also has to be done democratically. You can't allow subjective processes to enter your thinking or recommendations you might make to the board for the dismissal of a teacher. It is not always possible, but so far as possible, it should be based on facts that are verifiable. There again, some teachers are able to convince parents that they are doing a magnificent job because the child is happy and is given good grades and that pleases everyone. But it is an injustice to the child if he or she is not made aware that they are not keeping up to standards if they are capable of it. Those are elements that were part of my experience.
Q: Did a lot of this happen because of the war, the unavailability of teachers.
A: Well, first of all, not many men could go into teaching because they were in military service. Other men who were teachers were in the National Guard so they, naturally, were called and others, out of patriotic duty, enlisted. So there was quite a vacancy. Some other teachers were much higher paid by industry at the time so they felt that to be the better way. Also, at that time, unmarried teachers were considered more valuable. Some school districts would not even hire a married teacher. That is no longer true. It would be impossible to run our school systems now without married teachers. Now, an unmarried teacher becomes a pretty likeable asset to a community, particularly to the men there. It's a pretty good chance not only to make a pretty good career but to find an adequate mate. I'm not sure if society has changed much in that respect or not.
Q: Aside from that, do you think that teachers often choose the profession because they like working with kids, a lot. Above and beyond that is it a profession where somebody would have enough other benefits that they would want to stay with it?
A: It now has much better benefits, better security and a better retirement program, but it was always considered a socially acceptable job. Teachers were always well thought of. Coming into the community they had a ready entree and were sought out as members of the community for their advise. They were asked to participation on committees and in church programs. Many of them fell into that role very nicely. other intangible benefits, as in nursing, were that you were able to find a job wherever you were locating and if you liked to travel, there was a good chance of being able to travel through many places in the world as an exchange teacher. That appeals to a lot of people. Also, if you were a good teacher, your job was never really threatened in any sense, particularly now, as I mentioned, that you have many legal safeguards. If you do a fairly respectable job it is almost impossible for you not to be rehired. Sometimes that is quite a disadvantage to a school system who had marginal teachers. They can't do much with them. They can't be put in less desirable jobs or retired if they are older but still teaching on their loyalty, so to speak. I have known teachers who have never changed their teaching program in the twenty years that they have been there. It is unthinkable, but they use the same methods they used, the same assignments. It seems unbelievable, but its a very flexible occupation in which you can cover up many things you don't do well by just laziness in many respects or disinterest or a major interest in some other aspect of life.
Q: Do you think as a whole the educational system is remaining stagnant or is it taking some positive directions?
A: I think its taking very positive directions. I think we are learning much more about childhood development. And secondly: the environment is changing so strenuously with the advent of more mothers and women teaching. There isn't the same relationship to children. They are not always coming home to find mother, nor a mother's time to devote to the interest of the children. Certainly, society is demanding and hoping that the schools can take up more of the slack in childhood education, more than the home is able to give them. So, there are and have been many, many good studies. There have been many good experiments adopted and pursued by many of the teacher training programs. While some of them have contributed little to the knowledge and ability of a person to teach, there have also been some very good programs that an aggressive, intelligent teacher can profit by considerably in translating that into their teaching methods. I've been very encouraged with the things that have been proposed and the helps that teachers have, particularly with the advent of the computer and the computer age and the games that are involved that are educational. Very encouraging, but the problems of the child is also increasing at the same rate. So it is a touch and go. Whether the generations that we produce now are as stable and as capable of being on their own as those in other eras is hard to say. Time will tell. Maybe.
Q: Do you think that with all the things that you had to deal with while you were principal that you were an effective principal? Why?
A: Well, I like to think so. You measure it by the rapport that you have with children after they've long gone and are doing their own thing in life. You judge by their attitude toward you and toward school. If its favorable, encouraging and friendly, it can't help but make you feel that your methods and your teaching was successful. It is difficult to measure success, but a good mature, hard working, young family with good ideals and good concepts toward their own children are certainly, hopefully, a product of good education, or a good educational system. A friendly environment has lessened their problems rather than created more. I think this is basically the feeling of any person who enjoys education, to help the the pupil and the student find enjoyment, success and security in the things he has had to learn. That is a good basis for going on for the rest of his life in continued learning. My feeling was, and still is, that the desire to learn is a life long process and is one of the pleasures that society has. It can be a very inexpensive pleasure. Because, there is everything to learn all the time about ourselves, about society and about life. Many new avenues, many new sources of information, both audible and written are available. There is a world wide ability to travel, to meet people from other countries. A great opportunity to learn continually, I think so. I am enjoying learning now as much as I ever did before. In many respects, since I have more time to pursue whatever I like and the availability of it is there. You can go to learn - do whatever you want.
Q: It sound like you have a real sense of working with the students, the teachers and the environment. Just what was you role in all of that and in the community, its public relations and that type of thing?
A: Its very important in my opinion for a principal or a superintendent to take an active part in the affairs of the community. The Chamber of Commerce, Lions, Kawanis, and Rotary Clubs are all very important. You get to meet and know parents. A certain degree of activity in the church is certainly a valuable experience, if it is something that you enjoy and if it is compatible with your thinking. The same old problem still exists, that if you spread yourself too thin, you probably don't do a good job at any of it. But, I think, you gain the respect of the community and, also, they gain the ability to know who you are and what you are thinking. They may see you in a new light if you are on a work project together. It can be collecting papers or working with Boy Scouts or coaching a team. It helps the public, the people who really pay your salaries, to see the other good side of you. To see that you are not just there for the money of the position but that you really enjoy it. The fact that they see you enjoy education and teaching, I think is a comforting thing to a parent. It is one of the intangibles. I very much favor people who can, and do, participate in the community. Some of my teachers participated in church choirs, in coral groups and civic bands. They become a very important part of the community. Some of them have gone on into local politics becoming councilmen, members of different organizations or the president of a local service club. They are of service to the community and doing so helps them to better know some of the parents and some of the problems that arise in a community.
Q: What do think governed your philosophy while you were principal?
A: I had a particular feeling for the "underdog". The kid who came from a tough background, or had learning disabilities which could be corrected, the child who has a speech problem with other children making fun of them, or who might have been physically impaired for some reason. I had great sympathy for the youngster who had to carry these additional burdens that many children never had to deal with. Now, for instance, a child who learns slowly can be the subject of a great deal of feeling of inferiority and feeling of lack of self-esteem.
Q: I know you had stresses while you were principal, and pressures. How did you handle it?
A: Of course, it depended upon what the stress might be. We often were controlled or governed, so to speak, by an elected group of board members. Many of them were motivated surely from a monetary point of view. They wanted to keep taxes down and, therefore, you had to sometimes limit your activities because of lack of money. When the first advent of reading machines, for instance, while they were not perfected, they did help some children, but when they became available on the market, it was difficult to have money available for such things. The board of directors or school board bad to be sold on the need for such things. So often times you would attempt to bring in the parents who's children had profited by an experiment in this particular type of learning activity and the parents did most of the "selling" to the board of directors of the value of different, newer products and machines and that type of thing. So it took a lot of planning on how to sway the opinion of good people. Also, the use different methods to teach them that much success or some success could be obtained by the use of newer devices, particularly in the field of speech correction. Or the hiring of adequate persons who could find the beginning of a child with a stuttering problem and a mispronunciation of words. That child's difficulty could be corrected by a good speech therapist. In some remote areas, that was considered a luxury that was not necessary, but those of us who worked with the children day in and day out realized how important it was for that child to receive this type of help and correction. You are familiar with the field of which I am speaking, and you know what embarrassment it can be to a child who, for instance, stutters. It is possible, maybe not a hundred percent, but in most cases for a good therapist to eliminate that, then the child is free from that particular handicap to go on to reach whatever potential he has. So you have to be kind of devious sometimes in bringing pressure or educational to the people who control the monetary factors. That is very, very true in present day education. There are many, many things we would like to have for our children, some proven and some unproven, but we simply don't have the funds to do it. That is a matter of public opinion, public concern and public backing. So you sometimes select key people that you trust and that trust you. These people become, so to speak, the ones who carry the ball for new programs or expanded programs. An administrator has to have the help of good public opinion, and a back round of people who are knowledgeable and educated in what can be done for children if they have the proper equipment and proper opportunities. I don't know if that answers all of your question on that. But in a way it is kind of fun to be up against problems. To find a solution to them and to feel that the education of the child has been benefited. Not all of the experiments, by any means, or all the new professional programs that have been brought in have, perhaps, done very much other than could be done by a just a very good, hard working, ingenious teacher. But if new methods are available and new machinery is available or new tools or new toys are available that help in the learning process, then it is important. You always use the old cliche, "well such and such a school is doing this and we feel our children have a right to have access to the same advantages". There is a competitive sense and a community pride involved. The fact that the children of your school do well by whatever standards the community uses as a measurement is a satisfying feeling, not only for the administrator and the teachers, but for the community as a whole.
Q: So it sounds like you enjoyed handling a lot of the stress because you saw it as problem solving, but was there some way that you dealt with any frustration? Coming home and relaxing; hobbies; seminars you attended or self meditation, or anything you to help you with the stresses?
A: I was fortunate in having many, many friends in the field of education, and many, many times we would collaborate on problems. Like securing money from government projects and programs. I always took the lead in writing for grant money when it was available. Many times that was fun, a sense of doing that and a sense of leadership. I had many other administrators asking how they could do the same and I enjoyed providing help. We ran several head-start programs in our particular area as the first in the county. The success and obvious need for the impoverished families was a great satisfaction. I think personally, that having a wife that was also in the teaching profession and daughters who became teachers, you have a community of interest. You get a great deal of relaxation and satisfaction about talking shop. other than normal hobbies of farming and outdoor recreation, it was sufficient. I never felt the stress that I know some people felt who lived with the educational process. The only extreme stress that I ever felt arose when a particular person, in my case very vindicative person, became members of the school board through, I'd say, devious methods. They put a lot of pressure on me as an administrator. Many times for their own selfish reasons. It's difficult to deal with that because you're subject to their vote or approval or disapproval. But, then again, if you've built up a reservoir of public opinion that is satisfactory, you overcome that particular problem. I've know some of my colleagues that have had very strenuous times when one or two men or women who had been very, very detrimental. They have been unfair in their prejudice, in their judgments and in their public statements about school administrator. Some of them were very subjective and unfair. They had to deal with that. I don't know any better way of dealing with that then getting a reputation among the community that you are one hundred percent for good education. You prove it by your willingness to search for other avenues of money, new programs and methods of training your teachers and methods of giving teachers a lot of freedom to do the things they would like to do which they can't always do in a stereotype school system. I don't know if that answers the question. But I think any human being that's reached a level of maturity expects there will be no bed of roses. Whenever your working with other human beings there are always petty jealousies and envy and opposition. You have to learn to adjust to it and not be overcome by it. I don't recall any periods of depression. many times, periods of disappointment that they don't go along with what you think is the best. Sometimes its proven that they might have been right and you might have been wrong so its give and take. But then, if you are interested in your school system, you are interested in reading anything you can get your hands on to read about what is being done in the other parts of the country. Many times you'll pick up an idea that is very valuable, and that's fun, to be able to have freedom. You only gain that freedom by being a member of a community that know you as a trustworthy, I don't like the word trustworthy, an objective and stable person.
Q: Do you think that your years being a minister prior to teaching had an influence on your ability to, you know?
A: Not really in education, the only thing that it contributed was a deep concern for human beings and the individual. I think, maybe, that a little bit might have reflected in the fact that I was very, very sensitive to the needs of the underdog or the handicapped child. I don't really think that had much to do with it. As a matter of fact, I was pleased to get away from the stereotype that much religion holds and much preconceived ideas. I felt much freer in the field of education where you could explore, devise new methods and work with individual children. I didn't feel that that was much of a contribution other than an overwhelming concern for the welfare of every human being. But directly related to children, it was very satisfying, because you could often see their growth and see the help that the school could make available to them to become better adjusted and successful. I don't know of any thing more valuable to society than that particular thing. That has nothing to do with one's fundamental belief. You can get into so many contradictory arguments that, to me, it was a waste of time to be involved in that. Education was open and fun and you could explore in it, to a point.
Q: It sounds like somewhere between being a minister and working with the schools, you came up with some of your own ideas on religion and maybe a code of ethics, or a way of looking at right and wrong and dealing with situations. What do you think your code of ethics would be?
A: Well, quite simple, you try to teach children the principles of right and wrong. That such mundane cliches as: telling lies is self-destructive, and is no solution. You have a chance to talk to children as you're working with them on stories, literature and history and the mistakes that people have made by not being forthright and honest. At the elementary level, of course, you are concerned that a child learn fair play and equal time for personal interest and the ability to be generous, kind and understanding and to giving the other fellow a break. Teaching the children how to handle new comers that come to school. These are just common every day tools that people use throughout life. Education is the best place for them to begin to realize that. For them to gain recognition, success and praise for doing something that is very good and very thoughtful is a great builder of character for them. Don't know if that answers it, but that's my feeling. I think that's why education catches so many fields of life. Good mental health, the growth, maturity, and the maturing processes of children are very delightful to see. That is one of the rewards of retirement in a community in which you've seen many of the youngsters blossom into very outstanding citizens who were maybe average in school, but who were never "defeated by their own difficulties" but would overcome them to become successful in the matter of making a living and raising a family, and becoming a member of the community. And to think of them as friends of yours now. In some relationships, a principal has to be the administrator of discipline. How he handles it is a very important factor in the child's development or respect toward discipline. You know it can be harsh and unyielding or it can be understanding but fair. By all means, the explanation to the youngster why the discipline has to be administered is very important and it is a process that carries through to life where ever you are. I probably tend to wander off in the philosophical areas of education but they are, never the less, very real. There is a carry over, so I developed a cliche that the most important factor in education is the quality of the person who is the teacher. You can have elaborate equipment, the most fabulous buildings and everything else but nothing takes the place of the character and quality of a good teacher. The same is true of the principal, because he or she sets the tone. No question about it.
Q: What was your tone? What tone did you set?
A: Well, number one was understanding of the problems of the child. Next, is supporting the teachers. Giving them adequate praise and recognition for the work that they are doing. My code was: if I ever had a member of the community just casually or by chance tell me something about a particular teacher that was pleasant, I always made it a point to go down and tell the teacher that I had heard some very nice things about them. It was fun, because it was so rewarding. So often teachers are sensitive about being liked or disliked that a little word of encouragement on the principal's part means so much, more than you can really ever estimate. That probably was my code of encouragement to teachers. There are times when you know that you are not only encouraging, but you are calling to their attention some factors that they should correct. Minor, small matters, but it sets a certain tone, like some teachers will goof off on their responsibility. Others may have to do duty that they don't like to do because other teachers won't show up. And you have to face that. It is not fair to the other teachers. So if I had a tone, it would be fairness, treating people with equal consideration and doing everything you can to help boost their morale, when it's worthy, when it's worthwhile in the good job they are doing and let them know that your recognize it. It is very important, as a principal, to be positive and constructive and to enjoy doing it. It was fun to see teachers relax and to enjoy something. It is so easy for people who like to blame the teacher for the fact that they didn't learn anything and many times it is the teacher's fault. But most of the time, teachers are very sensitive to that, to criticism. So if you can give them a little lift, it more than pay dividends in loyalty and that type of thing.
Q: One thing I am wondering, there have been a lot of political situations that have come up in the last thirty, forty years: desegregation, civil rights, sexual revolution, some of these big things, the ends of the wars, different political things. Is there a time period or different event that you can recall specifically and how your school, and you and the community responded to those?
A: During my period of administration, there was the Korean War and then the Vietnam War. We encouraged our Civics teachers and History teachers to very openly present both sides. You know in periods of war there's very tremendous patriotic pressure on all phases of society to be advocates of the force. We've learned, and we still should be learning, that that's not the solution. Children at an early level can be faced with the facts of history and, there again, it probably is not up to the administrator to urge his staff to take one position or another, but I think be has the right to urge them to present the problem to the youngsters and let the youngsters do research on the use of force on other human beings. It's a very touchy subject. one's own personal feelings can't be brought too closely to the core because there are many, many well-intentioned parents who have an opposite view and who are very honest in their view. Children shouldn't be encouraged to think that their parents are wrong, although events later on might prove that the whole policy of the government was wrong and we come to recognize it. But children, in my opinion, shouldn't be forced to take a personal feeling toward someone that's as close to them as a parent and so influential, but they should be encouraged to discuss it. I feel the same is true about some of the problems that children have with religion. They can't always except or can't rationalize how some of the pronouncements that are made by extremely religious, so-called religious people, can jive with some of the facts. A good illustration is the fundamentalist who can't understand the theory of evolution, when children are presented with that all the time. The children in your school, no matter what their background is, shouldn't be condemned or made to feel embarrassed or inferior because they or their parents hold one position, but they should be allowed to have the free discussion of both sides of the thing. You can pretty well depend on children, in my opinion, maybe not, but at least they can question some of the problems, which I think is very healthy, which, I think, every one should do. Human, mature adults, that is mature by full grown doesn't mean that they are mature, but adults who are in the position to vote and influence civic and public affairs. Well it's kind of rambling on and it is a touchy area, but I do think that part of education is to stress the ability to look at both sides strongly. I don't quite think an administrator or a teacher has the right to say I'm right and your wrong, but look at these facts and you make up your own mind.
Q: Were you ever and your school ever touched by events or social unrest that you had to deal with? For instance, children getting involved with smoking or picking up drugs while they were at school or the question of whether to talk about sex in the classrooms, things like that?
A: Actually, in my generation, I retired just about the time when the drug problem was becoming an in. In the first few years of my retirement, I was very active in a program called DARE TO CARE which meant parents were concerned about the sudden evolution of the drug problem in high schools particularly, and among even seventh and eighth graders that parents themselves were not aware of the fact that the children were smoking marijuana. At that particular time, it was considered that marijuana was a very relaxing drug. There wasn't the emphasis on the fact that marijuana smoking would be a permanent danger to a person's brain. Now current evidence, I guess, indicated that it can permanently damage the brain's ability to think rationally with some people. I think, probably, it's true. So we were just beginning to get into that, but actually the freedom of sex was not a major issue, so probably school education was much more comfortable than it is now when so many problems are insolvable, seemingly so, and a generation of parents who are themselves abusers of tobacco, alcohol, dope of various kinds or narcotics or whatever they call various names for chemically induced feelings. I can't speak very well on that, I really didn't enter that moral situation. I think can only remember my experience of one girl who ever became pregnant. My only problem was that the county health doctor wouldn't have anything to do with her because he said he would be setting a precedent. I thought it was terrible. Here was this poor girl, who was an adopted child and who's parents didn't know how to cope with it, so we, as a school, were able to get medical care for her and raise some money through voluntary gifts to see that she was able to bring her child and give birth to it but it was a new area. Now many agencies are set up to take care of that. I was really not too involved in that type of thing.
Q: Can you think of about five specific memories from the seventeen years that you were principal that were your most memorable in any way at all?
A: Probably the most memorable thing that happened to me was after I had retired about five years. They named the Junior high school after me, which I never expected. I was called to tell me the news by the man who had been most critical of my work as a school board member. That was one of the most, probably the most, memorable and satisfying things and humbling things. Another incident that was very satisfying and fun was when I appeared before the city council to request a matter that was related to the building of a senior adult center and unrelated to school things. The chief of police, who sat in at the council meeting, was one of the boys that I had had in my office at one time for some slight little thing. We had a good, enjoyable laugh about remembering some of the incidents. Another memorable time and a very strenuous time when we had to revise our entire year schedule in going from a nine-month school to a year-around school. To adjust the parents to the change. Many of the parents were in favor of it, of course, but there had to be constant educational programs. The reason was we made the change was: it saved the building space so we didn't have to build for some years to come. We had gone into a very strenuous growth in the number of pupils and to build new building each year was becoming more and more expensive. Another school district had already gone to that schedule, so it wasn't like completely pioneering the things ourselves because we had some guidelines. It was, nevertheless, a kind of a night and day program. To see it fall into place with a fair degree of success was rewarding. There was always a certain number of people whose children would start late in the fall, which was unusual. There was only probably a three-weeks period in the summer where all the children were out of school so that families could go on vacations. Another memorable time, after I retired, was the visit to our school by Nancy Reagan. Our school was one of the few schools in the United States that had school when it was possible for her to attend in the summertime and that had a very extensive anti-drug, SAY NO program. This was during the beginning of her activity in anti-drug programs. She spent about two hours in the classroom with the children on their level teaching the program. I have another memorable incident. It was again after I retired. One of the teachers had lots of good, humorous things happened to me and its been a nice relationship. That is all I can say on that.
Q: What was, in your mind, the one hardest thing to do, or to say?
A: The hardest, biggest disappointment was, after three summers of running a migrant school program for Mexican-Spanish-American children whose parents were field workers; and established, with government money, a summer program in which we took infant children, put them in a nursery, gave them all kinds medical care and had teachers teaching these migrant children who were too young to work in the fields. Many of them had very little formal education and some of the work that had to be done was remedial work. We had money for an excellent food program and we had buses to pick the children up. At times there were four or five infants being brought to the school that were no more that six-months to eight-months old and some two or three years old and then on up to eight years, which was considered still to young to work in the fields. The program ran, what we considered most successfully, for about four years. Then the school board refused to continue it on the grounds that it was our money but it was money coming from the government. Still, they said, nevertheless, it was their money that was being spent and it wasn't fair for the Mexican children to have this school program when other children in the community couldn't have it. Nothing that I could do could persuade them to allow us re-apply for the grant the following year. So that program had to be discarded. The loss was probably as big a disappointment from an educational point of view as from a personal point of view because I became acquainted with many, many fine Mexican families. I became good friends, ate in their homes and felt that we were doings some real constructive remedial work with their children.
Q: What do you think were a few idiosyncrasies, things that were totally unusual to your area or the places where you were actually the administrator?
A: Probably the most controversial program was sponsored by a very eccentric, but excellent teacher of children of all ages who were turned off for one reason or another by the normal school system. We were able, through the use of an old building, one of the consolidated schools no longer in use but whose building was in fairly good shape, to allow this particular teacher to establish a program with drop outs from the high school. They became teacher-assistants without credentials and worked with children who needed lots of personal attention. It was an alternative school and people from other school districts offered to pay to allow their children to attend this particular program. It received a lot of criticism, too, because they would say that what right does an elementary program have to educate high school pupils. Well, it wasn't so much a matter of educating them, although they had to learn a good deal of content material to teach some of the turned-off pupils that we had in the regular classroom, and the program was quite controversial for the years that I was there and allowed this teacher to have the freedom to continue with the program. Usually it was salvaged by very intelligent parents whose children attended the school and were above average intelligence and ability, but who felt turned off by the stereotyped regular school systems. So these parents, who were very prominent in the the community, presented the program to the school board and allowed it to continue. There were lots of attacks on the program, lots of publicity in the Portland papers about the activity of the work, but there were also several professors or heads of department of the teacher education program from the Portland schools and even from the University of Oregon who came and visited at length. The teacher made use of lots of drama and creative writing. All the different levels participated. It was a great achievement and something we had to fight very hard for, but then like all innovative programs, with the change of administration, new ideas and new people, it just kind of faded out. This particular teacher who was unique in her vision of good education went into her own private school and runs it during the summertime now. It has approximately one-hundred twenty five children whose parents recognize what it means to build self-esteem and success in children no matter what the disabilities might be.
Q: If this was a wonderful career with all sorts of challenges and exciting moments, as you described, why did you finally leave? Was it to retire?
A: Yes, mostly retirement. Then, there was so much more for us to learn, to travel, my wife and I. We wanted to see foreign countries, the people there, and to visit the schools. Well, I was glad to retire because there were so many other things I wanted to do and I felt that the schools were in very good shape. They hired some very good people to take my place. No person is indispensable. I left with a very good feeling about education and gladly say that if I had to do it over, I would do it again. I might have started in the field of education much earlier and skipped the ministerial experience.
Q: And finally, is there anything that I neglected to ask you that you'd like to in some way respond to? Any final words?
A: Real words of wisdom that would change the world. The only thing I can say is that there is a great satisfaction in having a chance to be creative. which I enjoyed. I'm not sure people knew that I was doing some of the things that, in my opinion, were creative. Nevertheless, it was fun to do it. When you are enjoying work and spend long extra hours at work necessarily required, I think it says you are doing something that is good for you and hopefully good for children. We never know for sure that our single ideas are doing anything more than the ordinary. School somehow survived through much mismanagement and misdirection because children are bound to learn. You can't keep them from learning and that's a great incentive. To see their minds open up and to grasp a concept, or to solve a problem is a satisfaction, especially if you like people. Then the added enjoyment of seeing them do well in life, not that they were brilliant necessarily, but that they found the right place. Some of them have become very well-to-do because of a certain tenacity and character. People trusted them and they work hard. It's a very fine profession, very rich.
Q:Well, thank you very much.
A:You're most welcome.
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