Graduated from Loveland City Schools where father was chairman of the school board. At the time this was a little old country school where I was born and raised on a farm. I did all the farm work during the big World War II 'cause Dad worked in the mills. I graduated, I went to Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio, which was close to home. I had a very hard time in college cause I was a kid 17 years old starting to college off the farm competing with veterans. It was very, very difficult. They set tremendous high standards. And I had a hard time, then. When I finished that up, I enlisted in the Navy, spent two years in officers candidate school. I was stationed out here at the Blimp Base - south of Elizabeth City for three years and then I went in the Navy, got on destroyers, and I regret the destroyer ship -- really bad place. I'd gotten married in 1952 and being in the Navy and being gone most of it; so, I decided to resign the commission and get out. Then after that, the day I got out the service, I was served with divorce papers. There went a career down the tubes. My ex-wife got custody of the two children and she did an excellent job of raising them. I went into education in 1962, got my Master's Degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I came to Elizabeth City on vacation in 1966. At the same time, I met the Superintendent, Dr. Charles Weaver. We shot the bull for a while. He said, "Why don't you come down here and be a principal in a little old primary school, J.C. Sawyer." I said, "Make me an offer." He did and I accepted. It was $800.00 less than I would've made in Ohio. Well, I didn't have any reason to stay in Ohio, so I came here. I served there two years; married a local girl, and then I served at Sheep-Harney K-6th for 16 years. At the same time, I retired from there, I was divorced from my second wife. During the 4th Year, I worked very closely with the State Department of Public Instruction to establish kindergartens. During Summer Institutes, I spent it teaching teachers Piaget-Piagetian concepts. In fact, I was one of the few principals across the state who was an instructor in the program. Needless to say, I was never able to tell the teachers until Wednesday that I was the principal. Their reaction was nothing. I mean they became zonks and didn't do anything. They were so afraid. But, by Wednesday I had their confidence. So, I never did tell them until Wednesday. Then, I worked with the state very closely with their Quality Assurance Program, which became the change for certification requirements in the state of North Carolina. I was assigned to primary certification area Early Childhood Education. We helped establish their standards. That was a very positive experience. In 1983, I retired with thirty years service with the state; since I had used the option of buying into the retirement system. I had with the state 18 years and the rest with my military time. The next three years, I served as headmaster of a private school south of Edenton, N.C. which was very interesting; very different from the public schools. I had a good time there; it was much easier. Then I retired from that in July, 1986. At the present time, I substitute. Years ago, I had a hobby of raising pigeons. I showed 'em, got prizes across the states. In 1974, we got a rock tumbler at Sheep School for the art teacher O'Neal Pullie - to use. I wanted to learn. I did it in a barn in the back, and I brought the stones back and the kids did things with 'em. They were so pretty I decided to invest in it. I got my own Iapidary and rock things. I made pearl necklaces, and so on. I said, "There's more to it than this. In 1976 I went to class in Williamston in jewelry - making techniques. I learned the techniques of making sterling silver jewelry. Ninety-nine percent of my stuff is sterling silver jewelry. And, so now it's a hobby and income. Also, I do 16-20 shows a year. I remarried a year or so ago and my present wife is a teacher in the emotionally handicapped class at Sheep-Harney School. It's her first year in teaching.
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Q: Very good, very busy. Okay. How long did you serve as a principal?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I had a total of 18 years 16 at Sheep School and two at J. C. Sawyer. In Ohio, I was Assistant Principal for one year.
Q: And then at the - uh - private school?
A: I was Headmaster which you might say is the same thing as being a principal.
Q: For three years?
Q: Did you ever teach?
A: Yes, I taught Language Arts in a junior high school in Ohio very, very low 7th grade. I was in a school system where they grouped kids who were nonexceptionals in 7th graders. The lowest pairing always was something else. Most of the time, they'd come in a number of my kids would come in and we'd have math, social studies, science, and math. We had the low kids. We both asked for 'em the next year. The principal never had anybody ask for 'em back again.
Q: Why did you decide to become a principal?
A: Ah, the salary, you could expect, was a whole lot better than as a classroom teacher.
Q: Very real. Okay. Describe - tell me about Sheep Harney while you were there.
A: When I went to Sheep Harney, there were 33 classrooms, 2 of those were special education, 31 were regular classrooms. There were 5 sections of every grade lst - 6th. There were 935 children. We were integrated through Freedom of Choice. There were little over 100 black students. There were 4 black teachers at the time. Two had been there for two years and the other two had been there for one year that's Mrs. Cole and Mrs. Berry. Mrs. Berry is still there. Now, Odell Harris is back as Assistant Principal. Mrs. Mullen and Mrs. Cole both have retired. The same time I went there was the same time the school system consolidated city and county. As a result of integration, we closed the Annie E. Jones School which was predominantly black at the time. We had a meeting one afternoon and called together all the teachers. They came to Sheep Harney School and I gave them a treat pep-talk about Sheep Harney, about me, and I told them there were 935 kids in that school, and 35 classroom teachers at that school. They work here day in and day out and I said, "I'll now turn you over to their permission of the school." After that, I never ever had the first problem. They got along well. They programmed the school for kids and we all served to teach.
Q: 935 kids!
A: 935 kids in that grade school. They wanted to geographically zone the schools to cut the population down to about 810, something like that. Then we dropped down. One year, it went all the way down to right at 600. But, then it started building back up just before I left because interest was so high that a lot of young people were buying these big old homes over here in this section. They could buy them at cheaper interest rates, fix it up, and still save a lot of money. So, younger people were buying those.
Q: And it's still growing, too.
A: That's right. Then we instituted Kindergarten in 1971 or 1973. When we started Kindergarten, it was like drawing names out of a hat same number of boys, same number of girls, same White, same Black. After two years of that, enough pressure was put on the state to fund the whole primary grade program.
Q: Now, when you had kindergarten over there, was there a total kindergarten program in the county or was it just there?
A: Okay. No, I take that back. You're right, it wasn't total program; it was just at Central School and Sheep- Harney. When they went to put it in everywhere, it went in everywhere at the same time. We were only allocated a certain number of classes for our population.
Q: Okay. That's interesting, real interesting. What was your school's philosophy?
A: Take the kids where they are, whatever condition they were in, and move them forward by whatever means were necessary. I never -- I never forced my teachers to use a grade level book. No classroom was teaching the same group. So, it was up to the teacher to draw the books that she needed out of the back room. When I was principal, there was no inventory of books for my teachers. How do you like that one, Craig Phillips (note: Craig Phillip was the State Superintendent)? Ah, I gun-decked 'em all till the end of the year and then they turned them all in. We counted them and that's when we showed our losses and gains. And so, if a 5th grade teacher needed a 3rd grade book, she went to the book room and got some 3rd grade books. They were not allowed to stay in the classroom. We kept them in central place like the library or the storage room.
Q: Yeah. Um. Pretty good. How was your philosophy developed?
A: Well, it was developed basically on the fact that not all kids having taught and not all kids were the same. I suppose, when I was teaching 7th grade, I had the lowest group of kids, I gave a reading test in the school - speed and comprehension, reading skills, and spelling. This is rough, but the class average was something like four questions right out of ten and they read something like 76 words per minute. At that time, we were lowest in school. And so, they all admitted that they couldn't read. I had the same language book and same literature book to use with my kids as in the accelerated class had. So, we put these on the shelf and I went to all the elementary schools and walked around and books I found sitting on shelves not being used, I carried 'em back to school and put 'em in the back of my classroom. The kids looked through 'em and were reading through 'em. At the end of the school year, there were three boys not considered in any of the class averages. They were moved from the lowest class to the next to the top class in the next grade. They were reading in excess of 1200 words per minute. So, they weren't considered in the average of the class. The class average went to seven out of ten questions right and reading 300 and some words per minute. So, even though my kids were supposed to be grouped, I realized that even they were grouped and supposed to be the same, they weren't the same. There were other factors involved -- maturation, motivation, the environment. I'll never forget I forget exactly what the story was, but, I asked what was the difference between a house and a home. And these kids a lot of them came from 1,000 unit U.S. Steel project homes in that area ah, very low socio economic background. So, this little girl said, "A home is a house with love in it." I left the room it just got to me so. But these kids this girl could get that, but, she couldn't read her history. It's amazing what I found out about kids with that group.
Q: Um huh. They taught you a lot as well.
A: They wrote their own reading program they taught. With proper direction, you can have a class write their own curriculum. They maintained their own records and their own grades. At the end of the six weeks, I'd say, "Okay, I've got to report the grades for the report cards -- what's your grade?" F." "F? You got an F in reading"? "Yes. I didn't read the stories like I was supposed to." "It's my own fault."
Q: You already expressed to a big extent how you created a climate for learning.
A: Well, the principal came in at evaluation time and he left. I went over to his office that afternoon to discuss the lesson. He'd say, "I got a concern. Where did all those ... Well, I went back to class that day and closed the door. We had 'em for a block of time. I told Dick, we needed to prepare 'em. And we closed the door. I said, "Let's have a talk about what's going on in your neighborhood. And they began Ay, them damn nigers, they. I said, "Wait a minute, wait a minute. I don't want anybody in this room say anything they heard their father say, or their mother say, at the supper table last night, or the breakfast table. I want you to tell me -- YOU and why it's a problem." We-we talked for maybe an hour about the situation. Miles came to class the next day; he was accepted. We went on a trip that year. Dick and I took them on the school bus on a three-day trip to see some sights along the Ohio River. We had the worst fight we've ever had about who was going to get to be Miles' room mate. They argued over who got to have Miles. But, the atmosphere was set by Dick and I with the kids to make them think of things on their own level. When they made statements they had heard at the supper table, I said, "No, you're regurgitating what your daddy said. You're being a parrot. I don't want a parrot. You're not a parrot, you're a human being." It was a unique group of kids. They were where they were in school because of environment.
Q: Makes a lot of difference.
A: Yeah. And that's the same thing I said when we integrated the schools here. I said to the Black teachers, You know what the Black homes are like and the White teachers, you know what the White homes are like. You all need to share with each other." There were White teachers who'd never dream that there were eight kids sleeping in one bedroom in a house on Adam Street. They don't believe it. It's just not possible for them to comprehend it.
Q: You've gone through quite a bit of change -- well, you came through a time when there was a lot of change. Yeah, a whole lot of change. Now, you worked extensively in the school with the children and setting the environment and everything. Were you ever able to get out into the community, uh, to do any kind of-uh-public relations or change with the parents as well as the children?
A: Elizabeth City does not - Elizabeth City clubs and organizations do not look to public schools for speakers to come out to talk about the schools, about what's going on, what the problems are. Mainly, because the city doesn't have any thing to do with the schools because the county is where the money comes from and they don't relate with each other. And they're not involved in the schools like they need to be. If the public schools had the same support with what was going on in their buildings as they did at Lawrence Academy - the private school parents, we'd have a fabulous system. They start kindergarten. On day one they're starting in workbooks and top reading series and those kids over there score in the 90th percentile. They start on day one and it's all academics. They have 100% support. We don't have that in public schools. We don't have that about the community - the public; they don't want to hear. It's a shame. There were lots of people who liked what I did in the school and a lot of people who didn't like it. But, those who didn't like it, came out and had a conversation, and left thinking, my, he knows what's going on. But others wouldn't do that. They would not come to school. They stayed home and complained.
Q: You're right. You're right. What do you think teachers expect principals to be?
A: A leader, sounding board, a person who can be seen during the day making them have an easier time in the classroom, and make the atmosphere to teach much better. He assists in handling discipline problems and to be a buffer with parents and the community.
Q: Did you have to do much of that?
A: Oh yes, lots of times. Many teachers never know that I had conversations with parents.
Q: Yeah, I'm sure, especially here.
A: You're better off not to say anything.
Q: Okay. How did you evaluate teachers?
A: Well, for one thing, I was never in the office behind my desk. I was all over the complex - from one end to the other all day, every day. I knew all the kids. Nothing ever stopped when I walked in their classrooms. The atmosphere was much more relaxed atmosphere to walk into than the old classroom atmosphere used to be. It's real tense when everybody sits in iron bottled down seats. Then, when the principal walks in, everything stops. But the purpose was when I walked in the room, everything was to remain where it was. The teacher-classroom teachers set up centers within the classrooms and the centers made for a real learning experience in the classroom because I was not a threat to anyone. When kids came to the office for discipline, they knew they were coming to the office for discipline. The last few years there wasn't that much of a need for it.
Q: Was it because of, uh?
A: Wasn't as necessary.
Q: Now, were the last few years the last few years in public school?
A: Public school.
Q: Okay. That's interesting. I'm sure we
A: A lot of that was when we integrated the school, the Whites were anti-Black and the Blacks were anti-White and the parents were hearing countless stories. I told 'em, as far as I was concerned, they were all students at my school and they were all gonna be treated equally. The Black community was very apprehensive. Once they found out that the kids were there and learning was gonna take place and education was gonna take place, the relationship within the school was going on much better.
Q: You had a lot to do. Sure. What is your personal leader ship philosophy?
A: Try not to uh very, very laissez-faire sort of approach in that I do not dictate. I feel that with fellow educators and professional personnel that I can make suggestions and they can carry 'em out or they can recommend a change. It's just like when I interview a teacher and I say, "Supposin' I walked into your classroom and said I don't like your set up and I want you to change it." I let her answer it, and, they couldn't read my face. Of course what I wanted from them was that they would say, "Why?" or would challenge the dictate. I wouldn't hire a teacher who was just trying to satisfy me. And, I always respected anyone who would stand up for what they believed in especially for the kids. Of course, that same philosophy flows from me to the teachers and the teachers to the kids. It was up to the teachers to give orders. I flat refused to enforce a class room regulation. The teachers had to do that themselves that was their responsibility. If you don't want kids to chew gum in your classroom, it's your responsibility to see that they don't chew gum. So, that's their responsibility. So, that would give you an opportunity to see all levels over a whole year and not just a select group of kids. Some student teachers were assigned in high school classes to accelerated groups of students and they had a false concept of what it was to be like when they began teaching. So, I think we need to change the training to make it a five year program so the teacher has a whole year's teaching experience.
Q: You were very foresighted in that because that's something that's still being advocated now. I don't know where the status is; but, we'll get to that and get your opinion on that, also. We've already addressed the Civil Rights issues that you were very strongly involved in. Have you kept up at all with the Excellence Reports or listened to any of the information that has come out of those?
A: Uh, no, but I always read to see how the kids are doing at the different levels, what the scores like SAT. Scores are misleading have to be taken with a grain of salt. Some school systems neighboring Pasquotank County, specifically teach right at the test. Personally, if the criteria of success in education what this test is, then I guess we ought to teach the test. But the test doesn't measure everything like the social world.
Q: What procedures do you think should be used in selecting a principal?
A: Well, I certainly don't think it should be used as a dumping ground. When I first came into education, I would say the majority of the elementary principals were coaches or had been coaches that they wanted to get out of the school system out of coaching. So they had to give 'em administrative to make up the salary. So, it sort became a dumping ground in that area and yet that's the most formative years in education. They ought to be getting the best person coming down the street, but they'd get high school football coaches after twenty year of coaching and they don't know anything about a five or six years old. I really believe strongly in the same kind of philosophy that Ohio has. You cannot be an elementary school principal until you have taught five years in an elementary school. You can't be a junior high school principal if you've never taught in junior high school, and the same goes for the high school. I feel very strongly that if you're going to be a primary/elementary school principal, you should've taught/worked with that group of kids a minimum of three years before you become an administrator.
Q: A lot of people are -- at least beginning to operate on that philosophy in some of their programs now. Did you ever have assistant principals?
A: Well, they gave us an allocation for a while for assistant principal and I recommended Helen Marshall to serve as that job; but, she was still a full-time professional teacher. She was responsible for the school buses before and after school and she just received a nominal pay increase eight dollars a month or something like that. That was mainly to satisfy the requirements of Southern Association. Now, they're tied to one; and, at that time, I had both buildings and one secretary. Now things have changed. He has two secretaries and a full-time assistant principal.
Q: It's amazing how things are changed or how things are changing. As a principal, what was your biggest concern?
A: Um, my biggest concern was always the kids, their educational program, and meeting their needs.
Q: Okay, you talked about consolidation, integration, but, out of all the things you faced from when you were a teacher through your tenure as a private school headmaster, what was your biggest headache?
A: The biggest headache was the parents in that they wouldn't come to find out what was going on or what the real case was and not being supportive of the school automatically holding the school/condemning the school while not being open enough to come find out. That type of parent made it very difficult. That's still today -- difficult to get them active on the positive side.
Q: What do you think of career ladders or merit pay?
A: I'm very much opposed to merit pay because there is no good way for the evaluatee except for the whim of the person who says whether or not you get merit. I think it's human nature that two large a percent of that would be to the ever obedient, nice-looking, all-around good person which may have nothing to do with the quality of the education going on in the classroom. A good example is a teacher aide I hired who was obese. She had many job opportunities over the years as a substitute teacher. She had many interviews in this system. She worked I had a male primary teacher who was in second grade classroom. He started as a federal teacher, then I moved him a second grade classroom when I had an opening and he's been there ever since. He's the only male teacher of elementary children in the public schools ever in this county. He does a fabulous job. He never raises his voice. He's had some wild kids in there, too. But this girl was his aide and they were a fabulous team. Those kids were they really socked it to 'em. They were going in the same direction. She was a certified teacher. She was fun because you know she was this/that way. And, I feel that merit pay is that's going to help bury that kind of teacher. Now, the state employees have merit pay, but it's alright. Well, it says we got merit pay and we don't have any problems. Darn right, they don't have any problems. One-third of the people in the office get merit pay this year, next year the next third, and the next year, the next third. So, they all get it, but they don't get it but every third year. That's not really merit pay. But that's just a cop out to keep from paying the salaries. The legislators for education just want to find some way to control; so that, whether we like it or not, the Blacks won't get equal pay. Because I've met with too many legislators when there were all Whites in the room and they were talking about Blacks. And, of course, they didn't hesitate to get shot down by me. I'd tell 'em there were White teachers that were terrible. But, they still believe that.
Q: That's a shame. You think about someone who has been as outspoken as you have always been on needs for children and needs for teachers -- do you think you would have made it on a merit pay system/career ladder system?
A: Ah, I don't really understand fully how the career ladder system is working. As a matter of fact, what I understand from several contacts I've made with people I know well is that it's probably on it's way out the door. It's never really gonna make it in this state. It's not being anywhere near the degree of acceptance it needs. They really want to get to merit pay. It's never worked anywhere in the United States and they think they're going to make it work here in North Carolina.
Q: Okay. You were an initiator of many of the concepts of the Quality Assurance Program. So, I would imagine that you have a pretty good feeling about most of those concepts. Are there any new ones that you would suggest/recommend?
A: Well, having not seen what's transpired in the last four years, but in listening to my colleagues, what's driving the race is expectations for students. I think there needs to be a statewide curriculum -- and I understand, that's finally gotten out - as a basis for what students are expected to know. Of course, this Quality Assurance was a part of that. My main argument with Mrs. Koontz at the time -- and with Craig Phillips and Jerry Melton, whenever they came to those meetings and my first question to them was -- I would say, "I have a question." Of course, Libby would smile and say, "You already asked me that the last two times I was here." And, I'd say, "Yes ma'am, and I'm going to ask you again. Why are you such a strong believer that change in requirements for teacher certification is going to improve the quality of the teachers so that the students will get a better education and not doing anything to change the standards or quality of teachers who are going to be teaching the students at the university level." "Well, we figured that the tail would wag the dog." That's because the State Department of Public Instruction has no control over universities. We're trying to do our level in hopes that the other would follow suit.
Q: We're still watching to see that, too.
A: And most of the requirements that they're trying to do now are all the same because pressure is being put on the Department of Public Instruction by universities to ensure their existence that they have perpetual students forever. The only profession in the state of North Carolina that they're required to do that much schoolwork for to continue in the profession is education. And reading, writing, and arithmetic ain't changed. There are still school systems who're trying out McGuffey Readers and finding out they're just as acceptable now as they were when McGuffey wrote 'em.
Q: Uh, huh. Yeah. Really, really. Interesting. It would be good to get back into some of those. What do you think are characteristics associated with effective schools?
A: One of the biggest things and it's fought very much/very strongly before leaving the school system. When I came here, most principals weren't working in the summer. You came in in August and your teachers came in September. Here's your staff and you didn't know half of 'em. There was great turnover in this school system because we got a lot of military wives. That the principal have a tremendous amount of the hiring of the teachers in his/her school. Uh, it's not possible just to hire somebody who's certified in third grade to teach third grade. At Sheep School, you happen to be successful at Sheep, you transfer 'em to J. C. Sawyer and expect 'em to be successful at J. C. Sawyer where the philosophy is going to be different and your expectations are different. So, I think that to have an effective school; the teachers have to be really recommended by the principal and that he's gonna keep the continuity of the staff. He knows their personality and the kind of personality needed to keep that staff going. And to a degree, it's going to be his philosophy, of course, it's gonna be people who get along with him; but, the end result is gonna have a better and a more effective program because of the harmony. And, we eventually got that when the principals were highly involved in selecting the teachers for their schools. It went out for about three years and then we got back into it again.
Q: Very strong leadership. Well, for one thing the continuity builds very strong leadership in that school and that's, uh, what you need. What do you think of all the testing pro grams that we have going on?
A: I have no problem with all the testing programs as long as we take 'em with a grain of salt. A test is not the end result. That's why the medical profession is preaching so hard now to get a second opinion. One person's opinion is not enough; one test is not enough. We used to say this about our special education program -- one test result is not enough. Sometimes the test results didn't prove out to be anywhere near the truth -- the kid had these problems. A lot of the special education classes had the kind nobody wanted them in their schools, so, Sheep-Harney took 'em and they were always welcome there and we did fine. I always saw that there was lack of cooperation between special education teachers or remedial teachers and the classroom teachers. "Out of sight, out of mind," was most teachers' thinking. And, I expressed to the regular teachers that's not true. You are totally responsible for the child and I hold you accountable. Don't tell a parent you have no idea what they're doing in reading if they go to remedial reading. That makes you look extremely ignorant. So, if you need to ask the remedial or speech teachers, you go ask. But, the testing is fine if you don't you take it with a grain of salt. And I think the statistics we put out in the press and the SAT scores - and they're so much less than they were twenty years ago. Twenty years ago, ten percent of the kids in the high school class - the senior class - took the SAT. I never had an SAT. I don't remember anybody in my class who ever took the SAT. So, the percent-.. age, of course, how well they did were the better kids. Well, if you take the top ten percent of the kids and compare, then they're higher because of the vast amount of knowledge these students have been exposed to as compared to twenty years ago.
Q: But nobody ever listens to these things.
A: Yeah, that's why I was always hesitant to send the scores home to parents. They need to have an understanding of exactly what the test is saying. Don't panic because your kid got 70%-ile. That means that he did better than 70% of all the third graders in the United States. They were thinking something else.
Q: What was the toughest decision you had to make as a principal?
A: The toughest decisions were to retain children and to terminate a teacher.
Q: Did you have to do many termination decisions?
A: I did at Lawrence Academy. I had to terminate seven teachers in three years mainly because teachers are so hard to find to work at that salary schedule that you take whatever you can get. When you get 'em, you find out Oh Lord no wonder they weren't working somewhere else. But, being a strong teacher advocate as I was, it was extremely difficult for me to fire 'em. At Sheep School, somehow or another, we lucked out, and she retired. Then she couldn't understand why she wasn't working the next year. That shows you her level of mentality. Then, I had a problem with a male teacher who had problems relating to adult females. He had no business ever being continued in a school system with children. He didn't have a snow ball's chance. We terminated him. NCAE represented him. Wofford Thomas, the area person, and I were good friends. I called Raleigh and said, "Wofford isn't to come to this school and represent this guy. You send somebody else." That is a reason for him losing this case. So, they sent someone else. Fortunately, we won; he didn't have a snow ball's chance.
Q: Yeah, and the Association's position.
A: Was there a violation of his rights. But, those were the toughest things. I never had any problems with the special classes that is if they're not overloaded. I think the special programs are extremely negligent in the gifted. We don't have nearly the attention given to those kids as we do with those with emotional problems, learning disabilities, and educable mentally handicapped.
Q: It will be interesting to see how those things change or how they get worked out whatever.
A: I saw Craig Phillips at the special education convention this year. I hadn't seen him in four years. The Association was worrying about Craig Phillips because they were anti-kids. Never was the Board of Directors of the NCAE willing to understand their role in education and the superintendent's role in education. They are nowhere near the same. He is not teacher-oriented. He has nothing to do with teachers. He is required to seek quality education for the kids. The Association is looking out for the rights of the teachers. I've said many times at board meetings, "You shouldn't be anti-Craig Phillips; he's doing his job." He's doing exactly what he's supposed to do. Well, they were anti-regional centers in the western part of the state. Where, I always felt like we had a fabulous regional center. We got a tremendous amount of resources from it. But, see the teachers up in that part of the country were different.
Q: I know we've used ours extensively. I'm so glad that it was really as close as it was.
A: You get the services out in the field where they belong-this is what was behind the Uniservs of NCAE. The Central Office of NCAE was opposed to that concept. A.C. Dawson and them balked at it. It was a change.
Q: I'm so glad it lost. You're right. Change -- change is threatening.
A: NEA forced the change, see.
Q: You sort of talked about your typical day. For one thing you never did sit down. You were always on the move.
A: I was at school in my office by 7 o'clock every morning. Teachers called to school to report when they were sick; I found their subs. The coffee pot was on when they got there ready to go. At the end of the day, when the bell rang for the teachers to go home, I went home, too.
Q: Busy day. How do you account for your success as an administrator for so long, through such turbulent changes, too?
A: Luck. Winning the confidence of the staff. Think of some important things. Making the kids obey the school -- understand that I was not a threat to 'em. The kids had no problem coming up and telling me anything. They also knew that if they got in trouble, I was going to paddle them. I knew all the kids knew them all by name and that makes a big difference.
Q: Come to think of it, I really can't recall ever hearing anybody say anything, uh, negative about you, either -- none of the teachers. I don't ever recall that. Why did you choose to retire when you did?
A: With thirty years service in the state of North Carolina, you retire with full benefits. So, at that time, my salary my take home pay was $150 more than my retirement check. So, I was being principal with all those head aches for $150 more and I felt like, there was something else I should do. That same year I filed to run for president of the NCAE. There were several of the teachers who were active in the Association who had children at Lawrence Academy. So, they said, "You're thinking about retiring. Why don't you come on over and be headmaster." Three years is all the headmaster serves. So, I pursued that and found out it was a real possibility. So, I didn't campaign for president.
Q: 'Cause, I was thinking, I don't remember your running.
A: The same year Cecil Banks ran.
Q: Now, I remember him with all the hoopla and all that. Of all the questions I've asked you and all the talking we've done, is there anything you would like to talk about that I haven't asked you?
A: I think we've just about covered everything. Uh. One thing is that I don't think they train -- Elizabeth City-Pasquotank is so hung-up about middle school thing and it's strictly an organizational plan as far as I'm concerned. It does not improve the quality of the education as far as the student is concerned. Those kids operate-even when they're in a K-6 school 5 and 6 operate at a different level than 3 and 4 and they never associate with any of the others. But it's not a requirement it may now be but it was not a requirement in the past for anybody who was going to be working with 10-15 year old children to take a course in Adolescent Psychology. When I taught in junior high school in Trotwood, Ohio, there were 7th, 8th, and 9th at that junior high school and there were 900 students and 42 teachers. Only two of us had had courses in Adolescent Psychology which deals with the change in the human body and going through puberty and all that. That's what you're dealing with. I think that ought to be a requirement of any school. Certification for that age. You don't touch enough of it the psychology courses you have to take if you're going to concentrate in that age group.
Q: I think it takes a special person to work with that group because of all the changes that -- physical changes and emotional changes -- that group...
A: We now teach kids how to cope with them. Now we have to teach adults how to cope with kids.
Q: I think that might be one of the reasons we're seeing so many attempted suicides and successful suicides during that period -- especially with all the pressures.
A: Peer pressure, adult pressures. Then, it's a tremendous amount. We really don't train people that well how to work with them. Our counselors aren't. If they're going to work in middle school, they ought to be directed toward that area. I think the counselors need to be divided the same as special teachers. One of the problems I didn't mention which we had a great deal -- and I certainly met this is the teacher aide in the class room situation. We never even taught adults how to work with another person. We created an immense problem. One of the things I pushed every year for a summer institute -- where we were to teach these teachers how to work with another adult in the classroom and the amount of work that's involved. The teacher gets the most pay although the assumption is you got a supervisor or somebody; but it's such a relief to you to have to do all this sort of stuff. Um, it is; but, we don't train the aide to take all those administrative duties off the teacher's back. And we need to teach the teachers not to fear them or to overuse them. 'Cause there were teachers across the state who sat in the lounge all the time and let the aide do all the teaching. And we have aides who do not have college degrees, who do not have two years of college working in the classrooms in this system because of the grandfather clause who are great - they're great. Been working twenty-some years as an aide and she's fabulous at Sheep-Harney school. We really don't teach 'em how to work with another adult in the classroom how to budget their time and they're under utilized.
Q: Well, I certainly thank you for your time and your delightful information. I've really enjoyed it.
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