This is Judy Smith. This is June 9, 1999. I'm speaking with Mrs. Shirley Bealor in the Area 2 Office of Fairfax County Public Schools on her experiences as an elementary school principal at Braddock Elementary.

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Q: Shirley, would you begin by telling me about your family background, your childhood interests, and development, your birth place, elementary and secondary education, and any family characteristics that you would like to share with me.

bealor audio (Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)

A: Sure. I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, actually I was born in Texas but grew up in Oklahoma. And the first part of my childhood was very much your leave it to beaver world. I had two parents, you know, a mother who stayed at home and had dinner on the table every night at 6 o'clock, three siblings. This, this town was very small, there were less than a 1,000 people in it. And my class being that I was born in 1944, right at the end of the war was quite a large class, and it was the largest class in the school throughout the years I attended there, there were 40 children in my class. So that's the kind of education I had in a small town in Oklahoma. The school, it wasn't a one room school, but there was obviously one class at each grade level and the secondary school was seven through twelve. And, you know, you hear stories about the preacher's kid, and how they get treated in school and how life is, well, I was the superintendent's daughter, so school life was interesting for us four kids all the way through, we had to be really, really good. You asked about my interests, I was an early reader, a very avid reader all the way through school. I liked to do a lot of things, well, we lived in the swimming pool because my dad managed the pool every summer, swimming and bicycling, reading, doing a good job in school, Brownies and Girl Scout's, typical middle class family life.

Q: Good, thank you for sharing that, that was most interesting. Let's go on to talk a little bit about later on in college. Would you discuss your college education and preparation for entering the field of teaching. Obviously your dad was already involved in that field, so it was familiar to you.

A: Yes.

Q: How many years did you serve as a teacher and as a principal?

A: Actually I was a classroom teacher for just two years and then I became a reading teacher. And from there I went into administration. When I look back at my college education, I don't think there was much of it that really played a significant role in my career, how I did in my career. There was one teacher that I remember, that I'll talk about probably later, but college was pretty uneventful, other than adjusting to going from a class of 40 to a class of 4,000.

Q: That must have been quite adjustment.

A: Yes, I know, it was quite an adjustment.

Q: Okay. All right. Okay. Let's go on and we'll talk a little bit about some other experiences. I wonder if you would discuss those experiences or events in your life that constituted important decision points in your career, we all have them. And how did you feel about those, Shirley?

A: Well, I kind of thought about this question and I think one decision making point was, it happened when I was in college and there was, I had to take a reading course and the teacher's name was Ms. Crump, and she looked just like you would think she would look, Ms. Crump. She never graded any of the papers we wrote, she was totally disorganized, but she was just a marvelous stand up in front of the classroom and motivate and teach, she could get you really excited. And what I remember from all of my college years is being in her course. And how that got me involved in the teaching of reading. So that, I think, taking that course with her and becoming interested in reading was probably the first turning point in terms of what was going to happen in my career.

Q: You were undergraduate at this time?

A: Yes, and that lead me to get my Masters in reading. A second turning point was after I had been a principal for several years, I had an opportunity to participate in a Northern Virginia project, and I was the only principal that ever took part in that, everybody else in the course was teachers and it was a very, very intensive experience, I spent the whole summer doing that. But that was a turning point because I really got to know first hand what the learning process was all about, you know, how one actually learns. I learned that through taking and being a part of that writing project. And the third thing that I would look back on was when I was principal these past years at Braddock, I, you know, during my career I started out as a classroom teacher, then I had two years, and then I was five or six years as a reading teacher, one year as an Assistant principal, and then a total of 12 years as a principal with six years of Area 2 office curriculum kind of experience thrown in the middle of that. But the last six years were as principal at Braddock. And when I went into that job I made a conscious decision that I was going to be very school bound. That I was going to focus all my energies on being in the school as the principal of that school, and I kind of dropped out what is our political group, you know, our principal Association and some of those outside activities that I had previously been very, very active. So I spent those, that was a decision that I think was a very positive decision for me because I was able to stay very focused on the one, on the one job.

Q: How do you feel that benefitted you if you had been involved in other things, what were you able to do there?

A: I feel like it allowed me to be more successful. I look back on those, when I look back on the 25 years of my experience, I really was always very successful, but the time at Braddock was a time that I felt very complete as a principal. I guess that sounds kind of odd, but I went into that school and during the course of the six years I saw enormous change, I could see the evidence of what I was trying to do, and I feel like staying focused and not being involved in outside activities. For me, given the workload of the principal, it allowed me to do that, if I had tried to divide my time.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the circumstances that surrounded you're entering to the principalship, obviously you had other experiences as reading and classroom teacher, what motivated you to go into the principalship and did your motives change over the years?

A: Yes.

Q: I think you talked a little bit about that in your focusing the last six years, but can you address those?

A: I had not really planned to go into administration, that was not a long term goal, I was very happy working as a reading teacher, it was one of the best jobs you can get. But my principal at that time must have seen something in me because she started bugging me and encourage, she was a mentor to me.

Q: Who was that, Shirley?

A: Mary Music.

Q: Okay.

A: And Mary Music was a mentor to more than a dozen administrators in Fairfax County, she's still working today, all these years later, but she's had just a tremendous impact on the principals that she's worked with. So I started out as her reading teacher and within the first year that I had worked there somehow she made a connection with me and she began nurturing me toward administration. So within a couple of years of being there, working in that building, I began to think about, well, maybe that would be an idea to go that route. So I kind of followed her lead and I picked up the course I needed on top of Masters. And then there was an opening at King Glen, which was one of her, she was principal of two schools.

Q: She was the two schools, yes.

A: Yes. So she hired me as the Assistant principal at Kings Glen, so I didn't really go into it, you know, like with great ambition and this was always wanted to do with my life, I kind of went into it, because I was kind of pushed and nurtured, and sort of, urged into it, and the opportunity was just sort of handed to me. I didn't have to really go out and fight for it. But definitely my motivation changed, because the first few years I was probably, I was trying to follow her lead to do things the way she did them, the way, you know, that I had been taught that things were suppose to be done, but over the course of experience and years that I put in, schools that I was in, I began to really love what I was doing because I saw that I could have an impact. And read about that and you hear about that all the time, but I really saw that I could do something. And then it became just a quest to make a difference with as many teachers as I could, because then I could see what happens with the kids, that they then taught.

Q: Let's talk about your personal philosophy of education. How did it evolve over the years?

A: Well, like I said, at first I was looking as you were put into the school to make it run, and they gave you a guide book and you were, you know, you were to follow the rules and so on. What I discovered from experience and what my philosophy developed into was very different from what it started out as. I think that as a principal you have to truly develop a climate in your school that is supportive of learning and you have to start by doing that with the teachers. So the most, to me the most important thing is to build the right climate for learning. And the next thing I would say is be a role model yourself, that as a principal you have to be visibly a learner, a risk taker, and a collaborative partner with the teachers so that you're all working together so that the kids are learning. Instead of just being a manager that makes things happen and arranges thing, you really have to be a facilitator in the school. Just like we talk about teachers being a teacher, a facilitator of classroom learning, the principal is a facilitator on a broader level. So you facilitate for your teachers to be learners and get them into this cycle of exploring, chance, and trial and error, and assess and reflect and do better, and their classroom then begin to be the same way, that you set up your staff work as.

Q: Good. Would you describe, you've done a little bit of this already, the instructional philosophy of your school, telling how it was developed and how it evolved over time?

A: Yes, the thought that you take a kid and you just pour a whole bunch of knowledge into them and they learn and then grade the output was kind of where things were when I started. But if I look at my basic philosophy of teaching it goes back to, you take whatever child comes into your classroom and you take them as they are. And you put forth everything you possibly can muster to move them forward as fast and far as you can. The changes that I think I saw between the time when I first started as a principal, 20-some years ago and what I saw at the end of my time at Braddock in particular, by the time I left I felt like the teachers owned all of the kids in the school. It evolved to the point where it was a real team. The teachers were really disappointment if they weren't on a team where they could work collaborative with the other members. There was a sense that the other teachers were their partners in learning, and that parents were the partners in learning. And that's what I wanted to see happen and I saw it happen. And I think it developed just from the years, but things that happened in my career facilitated or affected what I did as a principal, because I had the break between being a principal, being in the central office curriculum position for several years, and coming back to the principalship gave me a real advantage, because I spent those years as a curriculum specialist really getting know the content, knowing, teaching strategies, knowing the materials that were the best, getting really versed in the best practices. And then when I came back into the school and I totally focused my energies on the school, I brought that knowledge with me and could draw upon it over and over again, as I got new teachers in or I worked with old teachers, so that we could bring in the best practices and really begin to make it work as a school. I don't know if that answer that question, though.

Q: It does, yes, I think it does. Let's go onto the next one. What experiences and events in your professional life influenced your management philosophy, please discuss these events?

A: Now, do you mean management, building management?

Q: Yes, I think so.

A: And school management?

Q: School management, right.

A: What I ended up being as a principal was not what I was at the beginning. What I ended up being was, are you familiar with, and I can't remember who did it, but there was a grid I remember in one of my admin courses that talked about, as a manager if you're very structured then you have little one-on-one touchy feely kind of stuff, versus all touchy feely warm and cuddly, there was all these ranges. And what I ended up with, I think, was coming to the point where I was high touch, high structure. And when I first learned about that I wish I knew, I could remember more of the details to tell you, but when I first learned about that I just didn't quite understand what it was all about. But as I look back now and I look back at those last six years, what I, what I was able to put into action was high touch, high structure and that would be, always being visible, always being very available and accessible, individualizing my communication style to whatever the individual needs were of the person I was faced with at any given moment. And along with that high touch and that warmth and caring that I built in was a great deal of structure. People knew exactly what needed to be done, there were regular predictable forms of communication. They knew what, there weren't surprises from day-to-day, they knew what the calendar was going to be for the month and all those things that teachers like. The structure was very much in place and working, but at the same time they knew they could ask for or get support or just see me for something anytime they wanted. And I think that really influenced. Then you asked for --

Q: I think the next one you've answer some of it, you might want to reflect on it a little more. What techniques did you use to create a successful climate for learning. Would you describe successful and any unsuccessful experiments in building, in which you were involved?

A: Yes, well when I first, the first year I became a principal and I only had one year as an Assistant principal, and I was assigned a school that had, it was a very large school, it had an Assistant principal and had a really split divisive community and a very difficult staff. So I went into that first experience with, the only bag of tricks I had behind me was what I had learned from Mary Music which worked in her setting. And I tried to put those same structures and strategies into place in this new setting and it did not work. I just figured that you could walk in and if you told everybody what to do and you gave them written directions they were going to turn around and do it. And it didn't take very long before we had rebellion. That was, it did not work.

Q: Was there something that did work?

A: Well, everything comes back to Braddock because it seems like by those last six years of my career that's when things were coming together for me and really working better. So the strategies that I learned to use would be to involve the teachers in making decisions. And to use the collaborative team, to use the school plan as the basis and the support for everything we did. I learned that if you, whatever you put in your school plan became very powerful because then everyone was committed to accomplishing working toward that. And the trick was to involve them in deciding what was going to be in the school plan and having them work with you on setting up the strategies and the evaluation components. But if you wanted a big initiative or you wanted a big change, and it wasn't in the school plan, or it didn't relate to the school plan, you have no, you have no background of support to make it reasonable for them to want to make the change. If there is change needed and it's in the school plan then everybody is in agreement that it's important to work on.

Q: Shirley, what kinds of things do teachers expect principals to be able to do?

A: Everything.

Q: Describe your views on what it takes to be an effective principal, describing the personal and professional characteristics of the good principal?

A: I think that teachers expect principals to really take care of their needs so that they can teach. They want principals who are going to be supportive when they're struggling. They want a principal who can make things happen, who can fix things, you know. If the air conditioning is gone, the principal should know who to call and how to get it fixed right now, because how can I teach these 25 kids in this heat if it can't be fixed. They also want the principal to know, to know instruction and to understand what's going on in the classroom. I think they really want a principal who can empathize and understand what the difficulties and challenges are in teaching, so that they know that they've got a solid support system. I think what it takes to be a good principal is that you've got to be able to step outside your own personal ego and stay focused on what the individual teacher needs to know and how that person is going to respond to what you tell them, and what you can do to get the best out of them individually. And that's going to be different in every case. I think you have to individualize for your teaching staff, just as the teachers have to individualize for their kids. Now personal and professional characteristics. I think of personal, to be really a successful elementary school principal you have to have an inordinate amount of drive and energy and commitment. The demands are unbelievable and you don't understand them until you've really been in it. So if you're not a Type A driven person with a great sense of commitment and high responsibility, and being very organized in all of those things, you're not going to make it in Fairfax County. You have to get by on a little bit of rest. Professionally I think to be a good principal you have to have a good knowledge base, you need to know instruction, you need to know curriculum, you need to know child development. You really need to have a good sense of how learning happens. You have to have very strong communication skills both in writing and oral. You have to have really, really good people skills. Probably the people skills, I mean, all of it's important, but you can have those other things and not have people skills. If you don't have people skills you're not going to be successful. You've got to have more than just the knowledge, but that is very, very important. And I think you have to keep on learning yourself, you can't, you can't be a role model for your teachers. If you're not engaged in learning and trying out new things. I've heard of a principal who wouldn't let a computer in her office, she wasn't going to get involved with technology. How could you ever imagine that you could have a really literate, computer literate staff if the principal wasn't going to do that either. And professionally organization skills, you have to able to keep up or at least keep your head a little bit above water.

Q: All right. That's a good follow-up, we're going to move on. Would you describe the expectations both professional and personal that were placed upon principals by their employers and the community during your period of employment, how did these expectations change over time?

A: I don't know that the community expectations have changed that much. They, the community still wants, you know, the best for their kid, they want the best teacher, they want, they want the best of everything. System wise, when I came in, the principal was referred to as a program manager and the superintendent at that time said, made a comment at one meeting that, if you as a principal have time to, to devote your precious time to being in the cafeteria during lunch time, then you don't need to be a principal, because you're not using your time wisely. There was just this expectation that you would be in the office making the paper flow. And system wide that's changed a lot. Now they, the expectation is that you be an instructional leader. You have to be a master of the curriculum and the instruction and the teaching practices, as well as a social worker, and a financial analyst, and technology guru, and a really good manager on top of everything else.

Q: That says it all, doesn't it?

A: Uh-huh.

Q: Okay. Let's move on to the next one. A great deal of attention has been given to the topic of personal leadership in recent years. Please discuss your approach to leadership and describe some techniques which worked for you, and an incident in which your approach failed?

A: I guess my thought on that would mostly be that you're a leader by example. You have to lead by doing as well as by what you say. And if you try to lead from afar and stay in your office it's not going to happen. I'm trying to think of techniques that have worked for me. The teachers always saw me as a person, if you're walking down the hall and there is something wrong with a piece of equipment or there is some chairs that need to be moved in order to get something setup I'm going to be right there doing it. You know, I'm not going to walk down the hall and have somebody else come back and move two chairs if I can do it the moment I'm there. It's just action and do, look at yourself as a member of the team, instead of something of heart from the team. I'm trying to think of an incident of when that failed. I did a lot of things, just facilitating the climate. I would try to do things with the staff to make sure they felt safe and secure, and that this was a fun place to work. So there would be times when, if everybody got their report cards in on time and all the bubbles were bubbled in correctly, there would be awards or candy or, you know, balloons or something, just little recognition things. We might have teacher appreciation, one of the things we did was a game we played all day long, we had bags with surprises hidden in them and there was a competition and just crazy stuff, crazy stuff. But because I could have fun with them it was just a way of leading by example is all, is what I think of. And I don't think of a time when leading by example hasn't worked for me.

Q: Good. Okay. Let's talk a little bit about home and school. It has been said that there is a home school gap and that more parental with the schools needs to be developed. Would you give your view on this issue and describe how you interacted with parents and with citizens who were important to the well-being of the school?

A: I think that the gap we see is a result of the overall breakdown of the family structure. And to ask parents to be more involved in school, when many of them are struggling just to survive, we have to find different ways to attack that problem. Getting parents involved in the school doesn't mean coming into volunteer in classroom twice a week. What you really want is parents to interact more with their children about what's going on with school. Get the parents to be more aware of what's happening in their child's life. And that's the issue and how do you get that to happen. And that requires a lot of outreach and social work and going way beyond the school boundaries. And I don't know that there is any quick easy solution for that. There isn't, it's very hard. How I've interacted with parents. I've tried to look at parents as, I see them as partners and that they may have failures as parents or they may have great differences in the way they raise their children compared to what I would do or have done. But if we can both look at the child and both acknowledge that we care about this child and what's best for them, then we're going to find some way to work together to do what we can that's right for that child. That's how I've approached parents. I've tried to be very open and to hear what their agenda is and then try to meet them in the middle.

Q: Okay. There are those that argue that more often then not central office policies hinder rather than help building level administrators in carrying out their responsibilities. Would you give your views on this issue. If you were queen, what changes would you make in the typical system wide organizational arrangements as a way of improving administrative efficiency and effectiveness. That's a long question, but --

A: Well, I have to start with saying that I've been very fortunate because I've been a principal with Paula Johnson as the superintendent and her style of leadership does not hinder what happens in the school. Paula makes it easier for me to do my job. Now I don't know that that's the case in other areas. Certainly there are a lot of example where instructional decisions are made that don't really have a direct bearing on what we know is the reality of the classroom. I guess if I could go back and change the whole structure it would be nice to be given the parameters of what I can work in and then just be given the budget, the bottom line dollar amount that I need so that I can make decisions about what resources are best suited for my particular school, instead of being given X number of dollars that I can use this and X numbers of dollars that I can use for this. And being told that, well, I'm sorry, you can't have more teachers because, you know. If I had the dollar amount that's assigned to my school and I could make the choice to hire a teacher, versus spending it all on something that we don't really need, that would be one thing to do, just to have more autonomy with accountability. And certainly Fairfax County has moved a lot more forward in that direction then in my time here, then it was to begin with. There is a lot more flexibility then there use to be.

Q: Shirley, can I go back to you talking about Paula Johnson. Can you give an example of her leadership style and maybe something that she did that would enable you to do your job?

A: There, it's what she says, she has meetings, I bet there has hardly ever been a meeting that she's been in charge of where she hasn't made the comment, that remember folks, family first, your health, your health and your family first and then school. Keep your priorities in order. And just her attitude about that, that has freed the principal to know that when it comes right down to it, she knows what's important in the world and she's right. Without our own personal health if we don't take care of that we can't take care of our families, if we aren't, not taking care of our families, we're not going to be available to do what we need to do in our jobs.

Q: Good. Okay. What in your view would be the role of the Assistant principal? Discuss your utilization of such personnel while on the job. Would you describe the most effective Assistant principal with whom you had opportunity to serve, what became of this individual?

A: I think the role of the Assistant principal is close to being a partner with the principal. Certainly after a period of time, but I look at them, they need to be involved in as much as possible from the very beginning, and maybe you don't give them a lot of responsibility in the first months or years, but you have them with you as you're making decisions and working through the course of events during the year. You can't have them shut off and then expect them to turn around and be able to carry on. So I look at them really as a partners, as a teammate, as a real teammate. The most effective assistant is, I've only worked with, actually only had two assistants for any length of time at recent years. The assistants that I've worked with. I'm thinking of two different people and they have strengths in different ways. Now the one assistant had great intelligence and tremendous energy and a great presence and ability to communicate with people. Maybe not as strong in the organizational stuff, but could stand up and do a presentation at the drop of a hat. Could be in a conflict situation and know just what to say and how to say it in order to resolve whatever the conflict was. The other person I'm thinking of was highly, highly organized and very knowledgeable, but maybe not as strong with interaction and people skills. The first one I described has become a principal and is known as a very outstanding principal. The second one I described I think one day will be principal, but at this point hasn't gotten there yet.

Q: Shirley, given the presence of administrative complexity, if there were three areas of administration that you could change in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of educational administration, what would they be?

A: I would like the freedom to hire the staff I need to get the job done, instead of being bound by the very rigid staffing rules that are necessary because of the budget restrictions. I'd like to have the freedom to organize the school calendar in what makes most sense for the kids. I'd like to say it would be nice to change the amount of paperwork that comes through. I'm not sure how we do that. I think that the more layers you have in administration the more forms and papers and reports and things that get generated. Keeping the management and the decision making as close to the school as possible, instead of several layers away.

Q: In recent years more and more programs for special groups of students, LD, gifted and talented, non-English speaking have been developed. Please discuss your experience with special student services and your views on today's trends in this regard.

A: I think in education we do an awful lot of the pendulum swing. We go from one extreme and then go back to the other. What I've seen in recent years is the classroom teacher and the classroom instruction is incredibly fragmented with the revolving door of kids going out for special services. And what ends up is the classroom teacher who has primary responsibility for that child's education doesn't know that child very well because so much time was spent being pulled out for this or that or the other. It also requires if the teacher is going to keep track of all these different special programs then that means demands on her time to meet with those resource teachers and communicate with them, and share the information, and coordinate the information and to get together with the parents. It just becomes really crazy. Now the opposite extreme, I fear we're going to get to, and that is having all the kids with all sorts of special needs kept in the classroom with the one teacher. And I think there is kind of a happy medium. What I would like to see is the classroom teacher, she has a group of kids with a diverse needs, but maybe the kids with the most special, special needs still have a primary teacher who takes care of those special needs. So that the classroom teacher has her 20 or 25 kids and she has resource support that comes in, if necessary, I think the best solution would be to continue to reduce the ratio of kids in the classroom. If the teacher is going to have to deal with a huge range of developmental levels and behavioral issues and physical needs and IEP needs and all of those things, then the fewer kids she has in the classroom and the more support she has, you know, maybe that would come out even. But I think to go all the way to the far extreme and the one room serves all is not the best way to go.

Q: Okay. Let's talk about testing for a minute. There are those who argue that standardize testing can provide a way to improve instruction. Please discuss your experience with such testing and provide me your views on its effect on the quality of the instruction program?

A: Well, I think that testing does drive curriculum, and that whatever is on the test then the curriculum changes to meet that. I don't believe that improves instruction. I think what we're going through today in Fairfax County and the State of Virginia with the SOL testing is the perfect example of that. Everybody is gearing what they're doing in the classroom so that kids can pass these tests and the tests have questions that are absolutely immaterial and have no relevance on what the kids need to be learning, so it just becomes an act of memorization. I think of all the things that has happened in my, in my career in education, what's going on right now with the SOL is probably the most demoralizing, just despicable is the word I find for it. It makes me sick to see what's happening in the classrooms where the amount of time is spent preparing kids for this test, and the test has been developed to suit a very small interest group in the State of Virginia, and I think it's ashamed.

Q: Okay. Let's talk about a little bit about cultural diversity. It's a topic of great interest at this time. Would you discuss the nature of your student body and comment on the problems, challenges and triumphs in which you participated while serving as principal?

A: The cultural diversity at my school was just wonderful. You would walk into a classroom and you would see a third of the kids would be Asian, another third would be a mixture of Spanish speaking, kids from the Middle East, kids from Africa, all different languages, and the English speaking blond hair, blue eye American child was definitely the minority. It made for just a happy, exciting, nourishing place to be, because the kids just got along so well, they -- it's hard to think as being a problem, because once we got into school it wasn't a problem. The problems and the challenges that go along with the cultural diversity are really the communicating with parents, that's where the difficulty lies because you have cultural differences, you have language differences, differences in expectations of what happens in a school. Those are the challenges that you have to get over, those are surmountable, they are. The diversity just simply enriches the lives of all the kids.

Q: Okay. Shirley, would you describe some of the pressures you faced on a daily basis and explain how you coped with them. Describe your biggest headaches or concerns on the job. Describe the toughest decision or decisions that you had to make.

A: The pressures on a daily basis would just be the demands on your time. A staff of 50 or 60 people to interact with, a community, you know, coming and going, the kids needs, people calling from the area office or the central office, or this report is due or that report is due, there aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done. So that's a huge pressure. It's kind of like getting on a train and you don't dare get off because you know you'll never get back on again, because the train is not going to stop, and it's going at high speed. The biggest headaches and concerns I had related to student behavior. Kids with really severe disruptive behavior, and I'm not talking minor things, I'm talking about kicking teachers and throwing chairs, and raging obscenities, and weapons, those behavioral things were big, big concerns. The other big, big concern was child abuse that I dealt with almost on a daily basis. Emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse. The toughest decisions I had to make related to what was the best course of action to take with a child who was abused, neglected, and was also severely disruptive in the classroom. And what would be the best decision. You know, should we push to get this child linked into the juvenile court system, should we go through the child screening process and see if there was a special program for this child, is there some way to intervene with the family, you know, those are the kinds of decisions that were hard.

Q: Okay. Shirley, I wondered if you would share with me what you consider to be your administrative strengths and weaknesses?

A: I think probably the strengths would be the caring and concern, leading by doing, the personal involvement that I had in instruction and teacher change. Weaknesses would be, you end up dealing with conflict a lot and I don't like that. I find that difficult. I do it, and I've learned to do it, but it didn't come easily. You know, when you're in the process of making recommendation to have a teacher fired, you end up in adversarial positions no matter how hard you try to keep it professional, and nice, and so forth. It becomes a very emotional process. And it took me a long time to get to the point where I could go through that kind of conflict without personalizing it. If I had been able to get to that point earlier in my career it would have been easier.

Q: Okay. We're going to wrap this up. This is our last question. The bonus, despite all my best efforts to be comprehensive in my questioning there is probably something I have left out. What have I not asked you that I should have?

A: Is there another life after being a principal. I don't think of any very wide ranging questions you could ask.

Q: All right. Shirley, certainly I want to thank you for wisdom, and your experience, and your expertise, and sharing yourself with us.

A: Well, you're very welcome.

Q: And I wish you the very best. Thank you.

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