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Q: Good morning Dr. Bready.
Q: I'd like to ask you a few questions about your education, ... your experience in the education field, and the first year, first question I'd like to ask is how many years were you in education total?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Well, I've been in education since 1954, 'til the current time, with ... roughly two and a half years out for some service time in the United States Air Force.
Q: How many years, ... what year did you become a principal?
A: Let's see (pause), it was 1970 .... it was 1970.
Q: What is your philosophy of teaching?
A: That's very broad question. I ... I feel certainly that ... in order for youngsters to learn effectively, they have to be ... motivated, and they have to be paying attention. So I guess ... that you would say my sort of middle the road philosophy as far as expecting strict student discipline and yet having flexibility in the curriculum for youngsters as far as opportunities for them to learn and to expand as far as they are capable.
Q: Do you feel that all students are capable of um, do you feel like the system allows for all students to achieve?
A: I think that our school system, as youngsters in our school system certainly are very fortunate because we have an excellent teaching staff and we do have curriculum across the total spectrum so that their opportunities are available for all youngsters to learn. Whether they take advantage of those opportunities or not is another story.
Q: How can we improve education in Montgomery County?
A: Well I think we have a very fine quality education system now, but as well as anything else there is room for improvement. I think that the one thing is the teaching staff has to constantly be updated, new blood inserted as much as possible so that you don't get stagnant and we continue to improve on the quality of teaching and the dedication and the interest of staff members. The curriculum has to reflect the immediate society, and what they feel is important for the youngsters to learn. and certainly has to be relevant to society as a whole and with the curriculum and teaching staff I think the rate is pretty much up to students and it is very important for teachers to provide as much quality teaching and motivation as possible. I do feel that a lot of motivation, especially with the older youngsters are, needs to be a lot of self-motivation, in order to really take advantage of learning.
Q: That brings up another question. Do you feel like the motivation of youngsters these days is lacking from the youngsters say of the 70's or 60's, '65, '70?
Q: If you could change any five areas of United States education what would they be and why?
A: Oh my, that's a lot.
Q: As many as you can get to.
A: Well since you're reflecting on teacher training, let's take that first. Having worked with teachers, and also with student teachers, and coordinating student teachers from the university in my responsibilities as a supervisor, I do feel that there needs to be a better understanding between universities and school systems as to what the end product should be. I think there are differences in philosophies as to just what's important for a teacher to know, and I would hope that universities would seek a little more input from public schools as to what they're looking for in a finished product with a teacher, or finished in respect to coming out of universities. Certainly there is continual growth taking place in any teacher if they are going to continue to do a good job. In addition to teacher education, I think I mentioned earlier in reference to curriculum. I think the curriculum has to continually be looked at, revised, updated so that it's vital for youngsters, and important to their particular needs. We have such a changing society as far as technology and everything else, that it's vitally important that curriculum reflect what the needs are in society. Let's see I think the ... question of student discipline is vital to sound learning, and I do feel that there needs to be consistency with any particular system, and as far as within any particular school building, that teachers need to work with the administration in coming up with a discipline policy that fulfills the needs of that particular school and school district. (Interruption) Are we back on again?
Q: Yeah you can go ahead and finish with policy on student discipline.
A: OK. Again I think there needs to be consistency with all and so that youngsters know what to expect and so that effective learning can take place.
Q: Do you find that in the school systems, I mean the schools that you have observed or that are under your control, have a variety of discipline within the teachers, among the teachers. I mean do you actually see that as a problem within Montgomery County?
A: Yes. I've done several different schools as an administrator and a classroom teacher myself., and also as a supervisor have been to several schools, and there is a lot of contrast as to teachers, and I think it's unfortunate because certainly teachers are different in their style of teaching and so forth, and I think that's important, but we have different styles, and what's good for one particular teacher may not be good for another, and so forth but discipline purge needs to be fairly consistent in the way it's enforced. As I was saying earlier, that I think the administrator and teachers, also parents and students need to be involved in developing a discipline policy, but once it's developed, I think it needs to be uniformly adhered to and reinforced. I think that when it isn't, then those who are trying to do an effective job are certainly hamstrung by those that aren't, and because students are very perceptive when they know what's expected in each class, and you can talk with youngsters, and for example, a youngster going late to class, if he's late to a particular teacher's class who expects him to be there on time, then they're very worried about being there on time. If the teacher doesn't seem to care, then that's reflected in the students' attitudes.
Q: What about parental concern of students' achievement today? Do you see that as a problem?
Q: Any other areas of education you would like to change?
Q: Would you like to go back into the classroom right now?
A: Go back in the classroom? Well, I think I would like to go back in the classroom if I were allowed to pick the place and the particular situation. I think that teaching is an extremely demanding job, and that anyone who feels that it isn't really hasn't experienced teaching. The ... it's a draining kind of thing that you are giving of yourself all day long and of course you spend quite a bit of time in preparation and the work at home and so forth. Unfortunately a lot of lay people do not realize how hard a teacher works, and if you're not completely exhausted at the end of the day, then you haven't done a good job teaching.
Q: OK, you mentioned that you were an assistant principal after the three years of counselling. At which school was that?
A: That was at Charles Woodward High School.
Q: What aspect of professional training beat prepared you for a principalship?
A: (Silence) I think the teacher training as such, gave me a basic background for being an administrator. I think formal training other than that, certainly I have had may doctorate in administration supervision and curriculum actually at George Washington where I received my doctorate, you had to have four minors as well as a major field so in addition to administration as my major, I had curriculum, supervision, counselling and the other was personnel administration. think certainly that training, formal training, gave me a good starting point to administer schools. I think probably some of the informal kinds of skills are equally as important and good common sense is probably more important than a lot of formal training that you get. You have to be able to work well with people, all kinds of people, because certainly you come into contact with a wide variety of youngsters and parents and teachers, and I think having those human relations skills and caring and dedication those particular factors are very important and as I said equally important as any kind of formal training.
Q: What do you feel it takes to be an effective principal? (I know you've probably answered this three times already, but something specific to make a principal effective.)
Q: Do you have a model person you patterned yourself after? (One in particular?) Model person? As a principal.
A: Well, I think the many of the ... I guess I would be in the variety of the older principal from now ... I'm trying to think ... Really I had a lot of peers and a lot of predecessors. I guess administrators try to look at and evaluate the kinds of things they were doing well, and try to take bits and pieces from all of them. The more, I guess, a collective kind of approach. There was no particular one individual but many that were in my estimation, excellent principals and I tried to borrow some of their methods of doing things and working. That was pretty much it.
Q: It you had to take me on an imaginary walls through one of your schools, going through the front door, could you describe your school? (You could pick Churchill or Damascus either one.)
A: Well Churchill and Damascus were two quite different schools ... going through Churchill, certainly coming through in front door I think you got a flavor of the school. Certainly I tried to have the staff and student body aware that people visiting the school just for one time really needed to know what type of things were taking place, and what kind of school it is, and it is vitally important that the impression they get is an accurate one. First of all, I want to make sure that the school is very clean and orderly, because I think that is the kind of atmosphere in which youngsters learn well. They take pride in their school and their activities and so being a clean, orderly, neat place was important as a starting point. then I think other things which I tried to instill in Churchill was a feeling of friendliness on the part of the staff and students ... so that we were open and not sitting in the office behind closed doors, but out walking and talking with student, eating lunch with them, visiting classrooms whenever possible, going to extra curricular activities so that the perception of youngsters and parents and staff was that the administration cared and was vitally interested in what was going on. You got Churchill, we prided ourselves upon academics and extra curricular programs. In other words, when I first started there, the concept, at least from the outsider's viewpoint, was that the school was mostly oriented towards athletics, and my feeling was there is no reason why you cannot have the best of both worlds. So that we work towards having an outstanding academic program which was enriched by an extra curricular program, and I feel that ... that for the most part was achieved by looking at the achievements of youngsters in both areas. Let's see ... is there anything I need to add to that? I think that pretty much covered it.
Q: Knowing that Damasoug is more of a rural area school and Churchill is more of a city based school, could you compare the two in terms of climate and students, and maybe attitude of faculty and students?
Q: Could I interrupt right now?
Q: So that we could switch tapes? We just finished discussing the difference in Churchill and Damascus. I was wondering if you could describe your typical work day at Churchill and describe how you spent your time?
A: Well certainly I don't know if there is a typical day for any administrator because it is almost something different every day, but in addition to having scheduled appointments ... Let's just take from the beginning of the day. I would arrive some where near 7:30 in the morning. Living thirty miles away, that meant I had to leave home at 6:15. Traffic as you know is a little difficult in this county these days. Once arriving at the school, it was quite possible that there would be a lot of staff member questions and so forth. So for the first half hour I would be in the main office working with secretaries or students or staff members that had questions, acting pretty much as a resource and overseeing what was going on. Then as the morning bell sounded for the five minutes the youngsters to get to class, the assistant principals and I had a particular tour, a sweep of the building to make sure that youngsters were getting to class etc. and that took at least five to ten minutes, and normally during that time you would run into a teacher or student that had a certain problem that had to be taken care of pretty much immediately. So you do a lot of work on the run and then come back to the office and by that time the local mail, the pony mail, would have arrived in the school and the secretaries would have sorted it out and so forth. So, unless they were some outstanding things, or appointments or whatever that had to be taken care of usually would get the pony mail for the next half hour and review that. The secretary would have already reviewed the mail and sorted it into appropriate piles and so forth so that as I review it and had signed things that had to be returned or action had to be taken and those would be automatically assigned by me to various individuals on the staff and so forth, and given back to the secretary ... Then again it would between the next half hour after that it would basically would be checking various things in the building, the cafeteria or checking on problems from the night before or whatever things, and then as classes changed I tried always to be out in the halls as classes changed and each of the administrators have areas of the building to maintain as well as asking teachers to be outside their classrooms and so forth. I felt that adult visibility was vitally important to deterring youngsters from doing inappropriate kinds of activity and also letting them know that we care what they are doing. So we are out talking with them and not just monitoring them. Then, during the next hour certainly you could be, I would always try to schedule observations of class and follow up conferences and these kinds of things so that each of the administrators had about twenty-five or thirty teachers to observe two or three times or sometimes four or five times during the year depending upon the needs of the particular teacher and so evaluation and observations and improvement teachers took a large chunk of time during the day. Parent involvement at Churchill was at an extremely high level. We had, I guess I'd say about thirty to forty percent of my time was spent either on the telephone to parents or parent conferences or in other aspects of working with parents. So that was a pretty large chunk of time. Supervising the various components of the organizational structure, whether it be the building service workers or the cafeteria people, secretarial staff and so forth with kinds of supervision and evaluation that might take about five percent of your own time over the course of the day. Curriculum changes, serving on committees and so forth took some of your time so that you are always attempting to update curriculum and to see that it was what was needed in the local school as well as society in general. We did have unique needs. I thought each school had their unique needs on curriculum so that there were a few things were a little different or unique at each school. So that certainly took time in developing and working with. Another thing I think that certainly takes a good chunk of time during the course of the day and the year, that is the scheduling process. Working with counselors with teachers and so forth in planning the scheduling process is basically almost a twelve month process. We work on that practically all year in one phase or the other. We had things starting in late November or December for the following year and working all the way through the student registration and conflict matrices and developing master schedules and so forth. So that it took quite a bit of time. Faculty meetings, other kinds, a lot of meeting time although I certainly tried to hold meetings to a minimum as far as those that were essential, certainly you have to have meetings. I didn't want to have meetings just to be meeting. I tried to make them all as well organized as possible and clear and concise and to the point. And then there are again throughout the day at lunch time I tried to eat lunch with the kids when ever possible and all the administrators, we had some teachers on duty that usually eat lunch in the cafeteria with youngsters or in warmer weather, many youngsters ate outside and we would be outside with them ... Let's see ... we had after the school day was over, certainly you would have to check and see about lunch duty, I mean after school buses and these kinds of things and so we would check and see that that was being properly supervised by staff on duty etc. and usually you would have work meetings or conferences with teachers and so forth and catch up on other kinds of additional problems. Well, normally I would go home sometime about 5:30 or 6:00 unless they was an evening function and which ended up being about three nights a week. So I always tried to attend as many as possible of the extracurricular functions in the evenings as well as on Saturdays, weekends, and so forth and ... There are so many activities that are a set of spontaneous problems that arise. Discipline, obviously is an area that certainly does take a lot of time. Although certainly the assistant principals are responsible for much of the discipline when it came to suspensions, the principal actually had to do the suspension, and I'm sure that they are a lot of things that I have left out.
Q: You've covered a lot of them.
Q: What would you have liked to spent more time on but other responsibilities prevented you from doing so?
Q: Dr. Tom Peters, who wrote a book "In Search of Excellence".
Q: OK. He said that an effective manager or administrator needs to spend no more than twenty-five percent of his time in his office. Do you see that as being feasible?
Q: You have already said that your biggest concern as a principal was the education of the students, and I think I am perceiving that correct. Could you tell me what your biggest headache was?
A: Well, I think that many people perceive youngsters to be problems. My experience has been that, with a few exceptions, that youngsters aren't really a problem, it's the adults that are the problems. The biggest headaches usually come from the parents and the staff members that maybe ... don't have as much concern and dedication and interest in education that they should. And so you have to spend a lot of your time trying to deal with those kinds of situations. Although I do feel that we still have a lot of excellent staff members, I do feel that the small numbers that are nor outstanding staff members that take a lot of your time, and a disproportionate amount., and it's unfortunate that some people are in education that really don't like kids. It's Just a Job to them, and some parents really don't care about their kids or have their own interests more so than their kids at heart. I think those are the biggest headaches. It's dealing with adults who don't care.
A: All things (laughs). I think most teachers want you to make them feel they are important to you in what they're doing. Their job is important and you are doing everything you can to let them operate, and be effective teachers. I think you can do that. It's very important that you have good communications skills and that you relate well to people, and that you can convey that to them that "I'm here to make teaching as easy as possible.' Not that teaching is easy, but when I'm trying to get other things taken care of that you don't have to deal with a lot of things other than good, sound teaching.
Q: That leads to my next question. What techniques do you use to make teachers feel important? (Laughs) All research points to the fact that excellent school have administrators who are actively involved in the leadership for education expectations. What are some effective techniques ar strategies which you have used to help involve yourself to the maximum in educational leadership?
A: Well ... in reference to being involved outside of the local school I think you are making reference to, I think that you need to be involved outside of the school for several reasons. One certainly is to keep a better perspective on things so that you just don't have tunnel vision. Also you need to, I think you have an obligation to the profession as a whole to help in the leadership and help improve things to make it a better situation for all concerned. I think through your own expertise you need to share that with other people and help in that respect. I think we have to be careful as new administrators that we don't get too tied up in committee work and taskforce and so forth with these kinds of things until we're able to feel comfortable in operating the school and comfortable in the staff we are working with and so forth. Once you have a good feel for that, then you can afford to spend a lot more time outside of the local school situation and in doing that ... if I ever give you my resume ... you will see that I have spent time certainly with the local organization and the state organization and certainly trying to provide some leadership and some expertise in these areas. I've also taught some classes, graduate classes in administration, supervision and associated areas for George Washington and I think that's ... and trying to provide to people who are interested in going in that direction some practical experience. I think theory is fine but by itself it's like working in a vacuum. You really need to apply that theory into practical situation so that people ... I think you really learn some thing from that. What I tried to do and to provide that to class members and also give them an evaluation at the end of the course so that they could indicate the things they liked and didn't like so forth and so on, and one of the things that they felt was vitally important and they were happy to have was practical, down-to-earth kinds of experiences, and cage studies and those kinds of things, and so I think there are a lot of things you can do and you really owe it, it is like repaying the profession for some of the things you are taking out by sharing some of the things that you are capable of doing and making the job a little easier for others.
Q: Did you have to ever get rid of a teacher or as administrator for any other reason other than educational or lack of educational quality?
Q: No I'm fine, thank you.
Q: Since you were a principal during the '70's, how did you have to deal with, or how did you handle any of the civil right.5 issues that were prevalent at the time?
Q: Did you find any of these particular situations to get more to the violent side rather than just abusive? Did you have a situation that broke out?
Q: I think we established earlier that children today have a tough time in the situation that they are expected to grow up in, correct me if I'm wrong, while you were answering this question, I began to think that a lot of these disrespectful, abusive children are parents of the children I am teaching now. Do you think that has something to do with it?
A: Oh, I think it certainly does. I think we are ... each of us are a product of our upbringing, and the kind of total of factors that have impacted on us our entire life pretty much make up what we are attitude wise, and what we do and so forth. So I've ... I think some of the things that we are finding in society, some of the surveys and tests and so forth, where as the drug use and these kinds of things were problems in the late '60's and early '70's ... were as I said, with only teenagers and early 20's. Now we are finding through drug testing and so forth that a large number of people in their 30's and 40's are involved in drugs who are obviously the parents of some of the kids we are dealing with now. So I think that parents have quite an impact on youngsters whether it be positive or negative, and I think that there are cases where youngsters consciously try to be different from their parents, and it is an improvement but I think for the most part they pretty much reflect their parents values and attitudes and actions and so forth. So I think that certainly that adds to the problems that the youngsters are facing in current educational generation.
Q: You said earlier that a lot of the headaches that you had were dealing with adults.
Q: What in your own experience did you find the most beneficial in helping you maintain your sanity as a principal, (giggle) if it's possible?
A: Well, again I think I was very fortunate to have parents who trained me pretty well and were, even though we were very conservative, certainly cared for people and did respect their particular rights ... to be different and those type of things. So I think the attitude I brought to the job was a healthy one, and one that was flexible, and it's easy enough as as administrator if we are not careful, to be very inflexible, and I'm not saying that you go overboard in the other direction. I think you have to temper things with good judgment and what is best for the situation to make it more effective. Oh, get back and give me the question again.
Q: OK. What in your own experience did you find the most beneficial in helping you maintain you sanity as a principal?
A: OK. I think in addition to my own upbringing, that it was very important for us ag fellow administrators to meet periodically and sort of share our experiences with others so that you realize I'm not the only one who has real problems to deal with, and I think that sharing of things really really helped an awful lot. We also not only shared some of our problems, but some of the ways of dealing with it so that we were able to get a few tips from each other and ways of working with particular situations and some of these things were particularly helpful. I think that certainly another factor was that, even though I mentioned it as being a real problem, adults certainly I have a lot of very supportive that do care, and I think parents and school educators have to work to together in order to do an effective Job in working with young people. We can't be working in opposite directions. We have to have these youngsters common good at heart, and get together to see what we both can do consistently to reinforce those kinds of things, and having a good sound faculty helps and not all schools are blessed with that unfortunately, but a lot of very good people. Thank you.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you enter administration on the principal's level?
A: Well, that's a good question. Oh ... I think I did a pretty good job as a principal and I think in that even though there were a lot of headaches involved, and a lot of pressures and so forth, I feel that as a human being my greatest contribution is to help other people. I think as a principal you have impact on more people in an educational situation than anyone else. So going on with my particular personal assessment of life and what life's all about and why were here, I feel that ... I would and when I really enjoyed counselling, working one on one with kids, as you know, is a lot easier and probably a lot more rewarding than working with thirty at once, but I do feel that I would have gone into administration because that's my best contribution to society.
Q: Is there any one thing you could have done to better yourself for the principalship or anything ... ?
Q: Please describe your reasons for opting to retire when you did.
A: OK. I knew that I was going to retire right about this time ... two years ago. Having talked with former principals who had retired, and other individuals along this line as to some of the problems of retirement and some of the kind of things that people are confronted with ... One of the concerns was going from a job as a principal where you are going full bore to a job of retirement where you are doing nothing. It is like it can be quite a shock to your system as far as mentally as well as physically, and my feeling was probably for two reasons. One- I wanted to spend them last two years in another Job that was working in education ... where I was ... it was less demanding, as to not in the amount of work and so forth. I think as a principal you are continually torn between students, teachers, parents and other administrators over you and those types of things, and in an area situation there is plenty of work to do and working in education, but you don't have the same kinds of pressures. So I've felt that this would be more of a winding down so I would go gradually into a retirement situation. Secondly, I also felt I would like to look at other and develop other skills in education to possibly prepare me for other job opportunities. Certainly as a consultant or other place of education because now I have in addition to being a principal, I have been a supervisor and area director of education which basically help the associate superintendent run the area, also working as administrative assistant. So in this last two years I have worked in three different jobs, and I think that experience has been good for me as well to learn other kinds of skills and seeing schools from a different perspective so that hopefully I will have more salable skills if I decide I want to continue doing some form of work after retirement next month, and in addition to winding down a situation where physically and mentally I would be more adjusted to retirement situation. Thank you.
Q: What advice would you give to a person who is considering an administrative position such as the principalship?
A: Now first of all as I said, you need to either through shadowing or some other method find out physically what kind of job a principal ... what kind of skills are involved, what kind of hours are involved, what kind of pressures and all of those that go into the elements of being a principal ... to determine whether or not you really want to be a principal. First of all, it's just like now colleges are a lot more perceptive of getting youngsters ... college students into schools earlier to see what's going on ... to see whether they really want to be a teacher or not, instead of putting them all the way through, and then put them out for student teaching and just before they graduate and some of them come out and say, 'Gee, I really don't want to do this." Why invest three and a half years or so in something that you might not be happy in that ... make sure that's what you want, and I'm saying think about a principalship, make sure you know that it is not Just the salary, or what you consider the glamour, but what other kind of peripheral kind of things, what does the Job really entail. I think that is absolutely essential because it is not an easy job and a very demanding Job, and if you get into that type of situation not knowing what it is, then you're in real trouble. So one thing is to know about the job, and two, you really need to assess where you are and where you want to go ... The principalship might be the end product for some people and for some people it might Just be an avenue to something else, and so I think you need to take a look at your career goals and your skills and Just where you can go and what you really want to go that particular route or not ... Other things determining whether you want to be a principal going into administration ... I think you need to talk to other people who have been responsible for evaluating or supervising you as well as your peers to hopefully get an objective viewpoint from them as to whether you have what it takes to be a good principal. A lot of people can be principals, and have been principals, but that doesn't make them a good principal, and I think that principals probably the important person in shaping an education as far as a local school situation concerned. Now obviously the classroom teacher is the key element in any teaching situation, but the principal really impacts greatly upon how effective a teacher can be and whether a student is disciplined properly so that he can teach and whether the teachers are good quality people that are learning and dedicated and so forth. So you really need to know whether you've got skills to do the job.
Q: My very last question.
A: Yeah! (giggles)
Q: Are there any questions that I didn't ask you that I should have?
A: That's the same thing they ask in interviews. Five thousand interviews I've been in an opportunity to sit in on... This is for your course. your Tell me a little bit about course.
Q: Introduction to administration and orientation. Basically where I think it's the first course to see whether you really want to be a principal or not, and it you want to go into the administration field. A lot of theory, a lot of examples of good and bad principals, a lot of book work.
Q: Since we've only had three classes, that is all I can tell you about it. This is the third or fourth class you're in?
A: No this is the first class, third session.
Q: Third session.
A: My very first class in administration.
Q: I see. Well with your limited experience, what do you think about the principalship thus far?
A: You turned the tables on me.
Q: That's what teachers do. (laughs)
Q: Have you ... did you find teaching to be the horror that you heard it to be?
A: Teaching was cake compared to what I thought it would be. After I did my student teaching at Fairmont Heights because I think that being in a really tough situation really prepared me for Montgomery County. Well, I think that it is important for people, teachers especially, to get out and see what is going on in other schools so they can get a good perspective on their situation. I think it is very easy for any of us to complain about things but as you indicated about your situation, the school where you did your student teaching and it did prepare you, and you are probably much more appreciative of the school you are in because of the situation you are coming from. I can tell you that being a principal can vary an awful lot depending upon where you are, and it also varies on your skills and whether you can do the job or not, and whether the quality staff and student body that you come to. So being a good principal at that school A doesn't necessarily mean you will be a good principal in that school B. It may take talents that are quite different, but I would think that the skills of being a good principal are pretty much the same, but there are contrasting differences. I think you, getting back to your original question, I think that you have definitely asked a very wide assortment of questions and I can't think of anything off hand that you haven't touched upon.
Q: Thank you very much for your time Dr. Bready, and I really appreciate all the effort that you have put in the holiday season spending your time with me.
A: OK, you're welcome.
Q: Thank you.
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