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Q: Describe the school that you were principal of.
A: What do you mean? In terms of the number of students?
Q: The number of students or however you want to describe it. The size, the way it looked, the building or how many classrooms, what ever you can remember.
A: The last school that I was principal of which was Crestwood Junior High School and that was, I went there in about 1960 and I was principal there until 1970. We had a student body of 600 plus students. When we first went in that building, we were totally segregated. When we first went in the building, we were getting all of the black junior high school students in the city at that time. We only had from grades seven through eight. We didn't have ninth grade originally. We offered English for seventh and eight graders, then Math for seventh and eight graders Science, Social Studies and Industrial Arts as well as Home Economics and Physical Education. The school building itself was an elaborate building. It was air conditioned throughout the entire building. I would compare the Science Department at Crestwood Junior High School equal to any high school and frankly to most colleges in the area. We had in the Science Room three different lecture rooms. In between these rooms, there were in the back, something like a corridor with sliding glass petitions for each room where teachers were teaching. You could set up experiments with students looking from their seats. When they had lab work, they could see in back of these three rooms. There were individual lab rooms. so really there were six rooms all together. There was a lab room and lecture room for each of the three science rooms. The corridor was in between the lab room and the lecture rooms. There was no petitions and it went all the way through from all three rooms which means that if an instructor is working in one room and was short of some chemicals or equipment that he needed that was over in the other, he'd just walk out in the corridor and get them and go back to his room.
Q: It was quite elaborate!
A: There was a Home Economics Department and they had everything probably that you had at home. They had the kitchen, the dining area, the living room and there were closets. One wall with nothing but closets. Right adjacent to the Home Economics Department, there was the Art Department. That was laid out too. In terms of what art teachers had to work with. In the other wing of the building, there was the Industrial Arts Department. There were two rooms. One was for Wood Works and the other was for Medal Works.
Q: This was in Junior High?
A: Yes. Junior High! We had the gym. There were rooms at the gym for teaching health, besides the Physical Education part. We had basketball courts and the pull out bleachers. The gym was not a gym totally. It was a part of a cafeteria, but a separate cafeteria. The cafeteria could take care of about 300 students at a time. So we had two lunch periods. The auditorium had a seating capacity of about 600 and in back of the auditorium, there was a band room where the band instructor has his band students. There was a hall, the band room was on one side and the chorus was on the other side. In the band room, there were three practice rooms. If a student wanted to practice by himself, he could go in there and the rooms were sound proof so he could practice with the door closed and you could not hear nothing. That's just about the building and it was located on about 16 acres. There was ample play area outside. We had a softball and an asphalt area. In fact, it's still there now. Since then it's been converted into an elementary school with basketball courts out there where kids come in the evening to play basketball and also use it for recreation. We were near the athletic field that was for the high school. So in the curriculum as such, you had a baseball team, basketball team and a football team and they played. We had schedules with the other junior high schools in the area. Before I left Crestwood Junior High School, we became integrated. That was a trying period for a while. We had no major problems, except problems that white adults tried to create. I'll never forget the first time that we--the first year we were integrated. We were registering students. When we first went in the school, we didn't have the computer system whereas students could be scheduled or placed in the class by computers. We did everything by hand and we didn't have but only one guidance counselor. So it wasn't just the duty of the guidance counselor to schedule students. A big part was my job too. Before I became principal of the junior high school, I had worked as an assistant in a high school. That was before we had Crestwood. At that time, I made the master schedule for the high school and I did quite a bit in the book work for the principal. So I really had a learning area where I knew how to do these things and we grouped students throughout the system. X, Y, Z groups. The X classes were what we picked out from the test scores and observing students. They were students who had the superior ability. Then the Y students were somewhat average and below that, there were the Z students. Many of us--I was one of them alone to tell this was not the best way to group students. I felt personally that in every class there should be some X, Y, and Z students. Because students prove to be model plus students. Students in the Z class had friends who were in the X class. If they are in the same class with their friend, they will try to compete with their friend. They had a class with nothing but Z's. They didn't have anybody to compete with and every so often when we put students in the Z class, we would go by the test scores and even our Office of Registry was not always accurate. Some of the people we say are Z's don't belong in the Z class. They belonged in either X or Y classes. I've seen that, I pulled students out of Special Education and put them in their regular classes. Some of them were students that the teacher said that they- and even the supervisor for testing had concluded that these students would never finish high school. These students have finished high school and have gone to college and some of them are teachers now and some of them may be principals. So you can't just label people because of--but anyway we grouped by hand and personally I think we did a pretty good job. Then at the time we integrated, we did a lot, just like most schools. You do a lot of the original plan of it, you would pick your students and you would give this list to the computer on cards and they set up the classes for you which makes it a little quicker and easier. So we had all students, when we integrated, we had all these students in grades. We had sent letters to every student with their schedule. Every child knew where he was going when he came to Crestwood Junior High School. Previous to the students coming in, we had sent notices out to the community. The white community and also the original black community. We had a parent group and we carried them around because some of them had never been in the building. Even though we had been having PTA meetings, but they would never come. So we carried them around on a tour of the building. The whites were amazed because the school where their students had been going didn't compete or compare with Crestwood Junior High School in no way. Some of them probably didn't want their children to go there, but after carrying them on a tour of the building, they decided maybe this is a better school. On the first day when the students came to school, there was a white gentleman in the building, and by the way, my assistant principal was white. "Mr. W." So Mr. W. came in my office and said, Mr. C., there's a man out there in the hall. He's standing and just looking around. I wonder if he has a child here. I said, I'll ask him. So I spoke to him. I said, Do you have a child that you want to enroll? He said, "No, I'm just looking." So, I went back in my office and I called Mr. W. and I told him that, that's one of your boys. I said, he told me that he was just looking. Mr. W. said, well I'm going to talk to him too. So he went out there and asked him a question. I don't know what question it was but probably something similar to what I asked. So he said, "No. I'm just looking." He said, "Everything is mighty quiet here." See, the students had their schedule and everybody was in class. You would ordinarily, come in the building, being that this was the first day of school, you would think school had been in session for at least two or three months. Everything was organized, and each door, when you passed by a classroom, there was a window you could look in without having to open the door. He was walking down the hall. He said, everything is so quiet here and I'll give you a month. And sure enough, just about a month after that, one of my co worker's, who's black, husband had died. I went to the funeral. So, I had not even got to church. I was parked and getting ready to go in. My custodian came up and said, Mr. C., they want you back at school. I said, what happened? He said, you'll see when you get back. I got back and I saw four or five police cars and some cars of a lot of the white parents. So when I came into the door, some white girls and some black girls all met me. They said, Mr. C., what's wrong? I said, I need to ask you all that. I can't even leave school to go to a funeral for a few minutes and come back. They said, has anybody done anything here. We don't know why the police came here and some of our parents came to take us home. So I went and I questioned one of the policeman. He said that they had got a message at the police department, that there was a race riot at Crestwood Junior High School. Whoever called, he called the television, and the newspapers. So they had all these people down there and some of the parents took their children home. They were afraid. Somebody told them that the black boys had guns. So the next day some of the white parents wouldn't allow their children to come back to school. We had a meeting with them. They had a lot of complaints. But incidently in the corridor, there was a telephone booth. The white students had been misusing that booth. They had took bananas, this had never happened during the whole time we had been in the building. We had been in the building for three or four years or more.
Q: This was a new building wasn't it?
A: Yes, they were sticking bananas in the part where you dial. So, I called the telephone people and told them to come take the telephone out. So they took it out and the custodian put a lock on the booth and locked it. So then, some of the white children went home and told their parents they couldn't use the telephone. When we had this little meeting, some of the white parents said something about the telephone. So, I told them, I said, I'll be frank with you, now we've been in this building for three or four years before we integrated, before your children came here no one has ever misused that telephone. First of all, I said, we didn't get it for students to make social calls. If something was important, we would let them use it. Your children, you all pampered them into this. Some of the white students come to this school, they get off the bus in the morning, and before they can go to their first period class, they're down to the office because that phone is locked and has been taken out. I ordered them to take it out. I was the one, the booth was there and a phone was in it to be taken out. But your sons and daughters would come to the office and say I'm sick and asked can they go home. We let them go ahead and call home. Then you'll come up here in a car and carry them back home. I said, "Now if your son or daughter is sick the first period or before the first period, they were sick before they left home." Keep them home. Then they don't have to make telephone calls and you don't have to burn your gas. Even though you don't mind burning your gas. But that phone is out and it will remain out. We had our little words, but I stuck to what I meant and they saw that I meant what I said and what I was doing. We had a PTA meeting shortly after that. One white parent had come and taken her daughter out and was going to put her in a private school, but for some reason or another, I don't know what happened. Things didn't work out and she brought the child back. So at this PTA meeting, they were getting things off their cuff and I didn't feel good that night but, I said I was going to that PTA meeting. I felt that if I stayed away, they would think that I stayed away because they came in there. So I went in and took a seat up front. They were having some trouble trying to organize the meeting because there were some blacks who were trying to put monkey wrenches so they couldn't organize because they figured that they were out numbered now and the whites may take all the offices. Well, the black parent who was chairman, or who was acting as chairman even had trouble trying to get it organized. So he asked me would I assist him. I told him, really I had not planned on doing that because this is suppose to be open house. I said, you all had only one thing on your agenda and that was to organize the group to get your officers and after that you welcomed to dismiss and go around to the classrooms and teachers will be at their doors where you can talk to them about the program and your students and their classes. But the way you all are acting in here, I'm talking to everybody. I'm talking to blacks and whites. Some of you got children here and it is embarrassing to me that your Junior High School students would sit in here and see that their mothers and daddy's can't conduct a business meeting. All you had to do is to elect your President, Vice President, Secretary and other officers that you need. It shouldn't be anything strange to you because I imagine you've been working PTA meetings ever since your children started school. So anyway after I, since you asked me to say something, I want to say this, that since this school opened on the integrated basis, I've received more phone calls from parents saying, Mr. C., a little black boy put his hands on my daughter or it's always something about this black boy did something to this white girl or this white boy. I said, I don't get any calls from black parents telling me this little white boy put his hands on my daughter or my son. I said, because I would wage a bet, that it's just as many white boys hands could have been placed on black girls than there are black hands place on white girls. To be frank, I'm sick and tired of this and I've had two meetings of students of the student body since I've been here. I've requested, I called the girls and I told the girls, I said, nobody was in this meeting but the girls in the auditorium. I told them the things that could probably happen in a high school whether they're integrated or segregated, I requested girls, that if a boy put his hand on you permiscuously and you are opposed to it, I hope that all of you are opposed to it and as much as you girls carry in your pocketbooks, you can hit him with that pocketbook anywhere you want to and I'll support you. I said and no girl up to this point has hit a boy yet with her pocketbook. I say hit him with your pocketbook, your books or whatever is in your hand and I've told them, I want all you boys to listen. I said, I want all boys black and white to keep your hand off these girls permiscuously. Now, I'll be frank with you, I have requested them to hit you with whatever they had in their hand. Their pocketbook or books and I'll support them. I said, I haven't had any reports. So, after I was through anyway, I made my little remarks, I left the auditorium and went down to the library. They had hot coffee and coca-cola down to in the library. I went down there and got me a hot cup of coffee. I really didn't need no hot cup of coffee. I should have had coca-cola because I was hot to start with. But while I was down there, my assistant principal came down there and said, Mr. C., you know that lady that took her daughter out of school, well she is looking for you. I said, what does she want? He said, I don't know, but she said she had to see you. I told them that you people had rubbed Mr. C. the wrong way and he's sick and tired of it, and I don't know where he's gone. Maybe he's gone home. So she found me down at the library. She came in there. She said, Mr. C., I knew you'd be surprised by this coming from me, but I thank you for what you said to us tonight. Someone should have told us this a long time ago, just the way you said it. I want to tell you this, I know you remember that I came in and wanted to take my daughter out of this school, but tonight I thank my God that my daughter is enrolled in this school where you're the principal. That's what she told me. She was working at that time there was a discount store called G.E.X. down in Virginia Beach. Every time I'd go down there--and she worked in the business office, and if she spotted me she would come to the door and say "Mr. C." So, after that, the only thing that was distracting was when the cops came up to the school, but we never had any problems except that one.
Q: Why did you become a principal, Mr. C.?
A: To be frank with you, the way I became principal, when I was hired, I was hired as instructor of mathematics and I became chairman of the math department. I went down to the ah, in fact, I asked the principal first about a raise in salary, because they didn't pay you a whole lot back then. I don't recall much of what it was, but it wasn't even $200.00 a month. Course, you could buy more for $200.00 then but it wasn't $200.00 a month. So I asked him and he said well Mr. C., I don't know, I'll talk to the superintendent. The reason that I was asking him was at school he was calling me his assistant. I was assistant principal but in reality I was not the assistant principal. I didn't know it but I would do the schedule, the final monthly report, the term report and the preliminary to the term report. I did all that. These were really a task that the principal would do during this time anyway. So I stayed on him about that and what happened, the Director of Personnel who was the assistant principal gave me a job as a Recreation Director on the side. After school I had recreation in the evening. I was at that time, in Douglas Park in Portsmouth. Douglas Park was Norfolk County then and it became Chesapeake later. But Douglas Park and Cavalier Manor were Norfolk County. All Norview area, all Tanner's Creek area was Norfolk County. Norfolk annexed that area and Portsmouth was annexing on this side. That's the reason they can give a city because they keep biting off part of them. It was very little of Portsmouth then and when Norfolk annexed Tanner's Creek they doubled their size in land area. Because it was small too. This was big system, but I became recreation director on this side so every time I'd go and talk to them about a raise, they said well I gave you recreation, you get a little salary there and in the summer, you're still working. That still wasn't what I was asking. I was after a contract that would show a larger salary. I stayed on my principal and he said, well look, I tell you Mr. C., why don't you go see the superintendent. At that time the school board office was in Norfolk on Granby Street at the Nausbaum Building. So I went over there and I talked to the superintendent. So he said, Mr. C., all I can do is maybe offer you a principalship. He said, but right now, I don't have any but the first one that comes up, I'll give you one. After that one of the principals died. One of the elementary principals in Churchland. They had placed a teacher over there in his place for a while, then they sent me over there. I was over there a month as principal for the elementary school. I didn't enjoy it because I wasn't interested at the time in elementary education. I was over there a month and the principal of the high school, died. He had a heart attack. The superintendent called me and asked me would I go back over to the high school and finish the year out, but he told me he could not guarantee that I remain as principal because at that time, I didn't have a masters. The school was accredited, and the principal suppose to have a masters. I always felt he gave me the run around. I felt if he wanted me there as principal, he'd consider keeping me. Because I was working on my masters at the University of Michigan at that time. So, anyway, I went back and I finished that year there, and that summer I went to the University of Michigan not knowing whether I was going to come back to the big school or not cause in the meantime they were building Crestwood High School and I knew that at the beginning of the year they would let me go to Crestwood High School. The superintendent did ask me, he told me rather that he couldn't guarantee that I would get the job, and if I didn't get the principalship, could I recommend some other principal. I said, well, you said a principal should have a masters. I said, well you have three elementary principals that already have their masters. So, as far as I'm concerned, I guess either one. I was not going to put my finger on anybody. So I went to Michigan and when I came back they had already selected Mr. C. W. Who was the principal at Southeastern Elementary and ah, so when I came back, the superintendent told me that he was going to send me to Southeastern in Mr. C. W.'s place because they were sending him over to the high school. I said, well, okay. So that's where I got tied up strictly in elementary school. Southeastern was an elementary school that had 12 classrooms. Then after I went down there they put four more classrooms there which gave me 16 rooms. It was brand new, Mr. C.W. went in there when it was brand new and he was in there a year or two when I went in there. It was just literary when I went in there. I stayed there for ten years. But the reason I became a principal was desiring more money. I enjoyed working with people, students and teachers. When I finished college, I had no desire to be a principal of a school. I wanted to teach math. Originally, I wanted to go into Engineering and at that time when I came out of Virginia Union, there was not too many places you found for black engineers. So I gave it up and thought it was a lost cause and I thought I'd just teach. So when I came out, that's what I got tied up in. My first teaching position was at Booker T. Washington in Suffolk. I was a coach there and I was told that the principal was giving me a football team. I told him a lie that I played football at Virginia Union. I went out for the football team one day. Practice was so ridged then, I put my uniform in the locker and didn't go back. I saw the coach on the campus. He asked me what happened. So I told him that it was conflicting with my job on the campus and my classes. I just couldn't do it. So he said well, you come out for basketball. So I did. I went out again for basketball and I think I stayed a little longer for basketball. I went out for 2 days. I quit that. So, the principal asked me could I coach football or basketball. I said yes. I said I played on the Virginia Union Dream Team. The dream team was there, but I did not play on the dream team. The dream team started the year I was there in 1938 and so I went to the school, the principal carried me to the school. And the teacher said, he's about the best student in the class and I always thought about that man, I think maybe until I die, I'll always remember that man and ah, I said now back then, I knew what he meant, the man think I'm crazy, but I proved to a whole lot of them that I'm not and I said ah, I'm gonna, way back then get my education, and I'm going to come out to be somebody, and ah then I've seen students, I've seen teachers back during that time in elementary school, who seemed to put a preference, ah, they would do more for I would say for a light skin black than they would do for the darker black and I always said that if I ever got a position where I could do something about it, I will make sure that all children regardless of how they look or what color they are or what home they come from, that they got the same type of treatment from the people who is in charge. Now this, ah, when we interviewed, I called the faculty together because now we have white and black, I knew, that teachers will be looking at me, white teachers will see if I'm partial unto blacks, and blacks will see if I'm partial to whites. I called him and I told him and I said that I'm going to tell you all right now that this is the first year that we're integrated and this is the first time that some of you met me but I want you all to get this, and I want you to understand clearly and I say, and I say if I'm not coming too clear, raise your hand and let me know so I can repeat it. I have on this staff, black and white teachers, and all of you are going to be treated alike. I'm not going to treat a white teacher any better than I treat a black and I want you to understand that, and I'm not going to treat a black teacher any better than I treat a white. If you have any problems, you can come to me but don't come expecting no special treatment because you're white or special treatment because you're black. This goes for everybody. That was the major theme of that particular meeting and then we also had a teacher's lounges. We had one men's teachers lounge and we had a women's teacher lounge and the school was all hooked up with intercoms, all the way through. In the Central Office, you could go in the master ward and you could listen at anything, so I told them, I said, when you go in your teacher's lounge, I want you to understand this, I don't get offended by what you say about me. I noticed teacher's have their pet peeves, and they want to get them off their chest, sometimes they want to talk about the principal, talk about the assistant principal. You can go in teacher's lounge anytime that you want to and you can talk about me all you want in there, get if off your face. Don't think that because you're hooked up by intercom that I'm going to turn it on listening to you. If I stand outside that door and hear you talking, keep right on talking, I said because it's good for you, psychologically, after you get that off your chest, you're going to be a better teacher, I know you are. So it wouldn't make a difference with me, because if they are sitting right over here and talk about me, I'm not going to take that off their ability to teach or what they do. When I evaluate them, I evaluate them on what their ability to teach and how they treat the children and how they get along with others.
Q: Well, how did you do that? How did you evaluate the teachers performance?
A: We had an evaluation form.
Q: You had a form? Ok, Ok.
A: I like to tell you one thing but probably you wouldn't want to put this on your tape. . .
Q: Opposed to ah, how they, what they may say about you.
Q: I see, ah, what methods did you use to make teachers feel important?
A: Say what now?
Q: What methods did you use to make teachers feel important?
A: Well, I first of all, I'd give them some responsibilities. When they have something to do in their department or in the school in general, a program or something, and ah, then I always have, even at a PTA meeting ah, I would pass out a little flowers to my teachers and parents to let them know how well they were doing.
Q: Having been a teacher and a principal both, what do you think ah, teachers expect principals to be like?
A: Well, most teachers expect principals to be a master teacher. I know I did myself, I would almost expect a principal to be able to walk into my Math class and teach Math, and you can walk in the Social Studies class and teach Social Studies, this is possible.
Q: Yeah, yeah. . .
A: Or perhaps an English class and teach English. You can't do all those things, but there ought to be some area's in the school where a teacher ought to be superior or good in and I don't think you'll find too many of them now that way, because now they go to college to prepare themselves particular for the principalship whereas during the time I became principal, they were pulling principals from the teachers. That's where they got them. I started to say for blacks, but this is true for whites and if you observe, back then and you'll find some of them still in the field. Most of the people who became principal, were former coaches. You take Booker T. Washington High School, it was a coach who became principal and Huntington and at I. C. Norcom, Mr. Walters, who was a principal. He was a coach. Mr. McGriff, Mr. A. T. Edwards who became a principal. All those, even Horace Savage now cause he's the only Assistant Superintendent in Portsmouth who was a coach, and right on down the line. You can go over in Huntington, you go to Richmond, I don't care where you go, most of the principals were coaches.
Q: Isn't that strange?
A: And I think what happened the superintendents found out because they worked with students and they were going to organize us so well, therefore, they can do the same but I think that one day there was some what like a pay off, I felt, a pay off to think if a good coach would give him principalship. Now, you made more money of course at that time you didn't get paid anything extra for coaching. I never got paid anything extra for coaching. I coached girls, and boys basketball and football teams, but my salary was just that little small salary that I got as a teacher.
Q: Isn't that something?
A: You didn't get paid anything extra for band or anything like that, you had a contract just like other teachers for teaching but nothing extra on there for band or what not.
Q: What leadership methods did you use when you were principal at Crestwood?
A: I guess you mean for developing leadership?
Q: Yeah, for the teachers as principal.
A: Well, at faculty meeting we would have certain topics that were discussed. The faculty would be divided in groups and we would pick individual as the spokesman for that group.
Q: So you didn't have any supervisory problems, like you didn't have a lot of absenteeism or a lot of teachers that didn't do their job in those days, you didn't have those kinds of problems?
A: You didn't have as much absenteeism as you have now. Yes, teachers stay out quite a bit now. A lot of teachers were remaining in school teaching when they were sick because they didn't have the time and on the other hand if some of the principals look at them and figured they were taking advantage of something and that maybe, that may reflect on their evaluation for that teacher, and the teacher felt in that. . .
Q: So, you really didn't have to supervise the teachers back then. You didn't have to watch how they use their time or watch whether or not they taught their lessons and so forth?
A: Well, we would go down to their classes because, you see when I first became a principal, you didn't have as many supervisors as assistants per say, but now when I was principal of Crestwood, we did have a Science Supervisor or Math Supervisor but they weren't in the school too often, so the principal, it was still left up to the principal to do the supervision as well as the administrative duties.
Q: Is that right? But it wasn't like you had to stand over them and make them do, it was more less, here's what you are suppose to do, everybody knows that what they are supposed to do.
A: No, I don't think that's good anyway. I don't think you get the best results out of people when you're standing up breathing down their necks all the time. I didn't say either in our, when I was grading them in Junior High School, we had a reading program also, where students were tested and graded. They were given the test, given reading levels, and they were placed in reading classes on the basis of levels and then this was throughout the school, and this didn't only take place in the Junior High, this was also in elementary, throughout the school system and then at a certain period, we had a reading, in the elementary school and also in the Junior High. We had our reading period to come at the same time. So, all these children, everybody would go to their reading classes and where they were taught reading and when they were tested later on, they would re-group again according to the levels. Some remained in the same group and some moved up. We sent quite a few of the reading people, well some got masters in it, and doctorates in it. You have there over at the college now, a former teacher, Dr. S., she's from this system.
Q: Is that right?
A: Yeah, and she's not in the college but she also has a doctorate. Dr. C., I don't know if you know her or not. . .
Q: I think I've heard the name. . .
A: I'll say, I believe, but I think Dr. S., I would say she maybe tops. She's pretty good. It all started, the reading program started under Dr. Y. and she left the system and is now working at O.D.U. I don't know whether she's till at O.D.U. or not. She was white and I think Dr. Y. was Jewish. But she really started in fact, it was Dr. Y. who organized the primary school that had this system. It was a model school where you had special, now they are working with elementary children but only top students. Elementary students were tested, even down to primary. It was almost like a private school in the system in a public system. You had special teachers who taught in the language lots, either taught foreign language, but you had just about any kind of language, and they moved around, not only the students, but the teachers did too. It was almost like they do in changing a person in high school,and that school finally closed, but it was model school, it was sort of a research school, you had people throughout the country that when they come through here, they would visit that school.
Q: Is that right? So you would personally say that leadership, your leadership style or view of leadership, is when you're just being an example for the employees and let them do, let them be creative and innovative on their own, as opposed to somebody standing over them and telling them what to do all the time.
Q: Ok. . .
A: I hope you're getting something from this. . .
Q: Oh yes! It's very good, very helpful. What do you feel is your philosophy of teaching? What do you think teaching really is?
A: What I think teaching is?
Q: Yes sir.
A: Teaching is really a matter of getting out of the student or getting the student to be himself or yet do the very best that he can to compete in this society that we live in.
Q: Ok! Now how do you feel about education? What is education?
A: Education is almost the same as but not so much a matter of putting in a person as to what you get out of them. Education is also bringing information to people and getting them to react to it in such a way that they will be better prepared to do whatever task that confronts them.
Q: Ok, that's great! What do you think is required to be an effective principal?
A: Say what now?
Q: What is required to be an effective principal? What do you need to be an effective principal?
A: Well number one, you need to be able to get along with people and you need to be able to organize.
Q: Anything else?
A: Make the best use of the facility that you have and the staff.
Q: Would you say that one of the pressures that you faced at Crestwood was the integration thing? Was that one of the pressures that you had?
A: I wouldn't particulary--I wouldn't exactly call that a pressure, because we really didn't have problems with integration.
Q: Ok, could you name one of the pressures that you had as a principal?
A: In knowing, I would say my pressure was and I don't know whether this still exist with other people, but it was difficulty in getting parents to visit the school, to PTA meetings, or at anytime on their own, to visit the school.
Q: Ok, did you do anything special to try to get the parents to come out?
A: Yeah, we'd have PTA meetings, programs and quite often, especially PTA meetings, because around PTA meetings, the only people would be there, would be the principal and the teachers. So it was another faculty meeting.
Q: Were the faculty require to come or did they come on they're own?
A: They were asked to come, but they all didn't show up and there was no pressure put on them because they didn't show up.
Q: If you had it to do all over again, what would you do better--better prepare yourself for being a principal?
A: I think I would really take some college courses now that they have courses now keyed for the principalship, to have a high school or junior high or other mentions. But back then when I took a course, I took a course in Administration Supervision at the University of Michigan. It was after I left Virginia Union, but I think I would have taken some of these courses in undergrad.
Q: How did you handle teacher grievances?
A: Say what now?
Q: How did you handle teacher's complaints or grievances?
A: Like if it was, what do you mean? Teacher's complaint with another teacher?
Q: Or student or anything like that or hours too long, too little of pay. . .
A: Say what now? I didn't get you.
Q: A grievance, you know, where he would, the teacher would complain about the hours being too long or not having enough pay or the room, not having enough materials or equipment or complaining about another teacher just anything.
A: What I call an incident where, if it was legitimate grievance that the room--I was in a model situation I say at Crestwood Junior High School, a brand new building it was almost like you knew, Santa Claus came down like Christmas and bring you all these toys that you don't have but if they were materials, some materials things, and it was legitimate. I was will to see that they get these material things.
Q: So what if they had a complaint against another teacher or student?
A: I'd call them in a talk to them.
Q: Talk to them?
A: And I even in elementary school, I know, I forget exactly what it was, one of our teachers had a death in the family, one of the teachers who was a former elementary teacher on the staff, and she was mentioning something about ah, happened down in southeastern, and I called this particular teacher in, and another teacher were having some words and I called them in and I told this teacher, I said now, you keep your mouth closed, and she said Mr. S. called her in and he talked to Miss A. and was telling them, how you all ought to be getting along. You ought to be getting along like sister's. You're down in the same area of the building, and you're working in the same area, you ought to be able somewhat compliment each other and help each other. But you're down there fussing. So this teacher anyway, she got up, she said, Doris said so and so and said, Mr. S. told her to keep right on and I got up and said, now you're lying, you're lying. . .and so what did Annie do? So I said look, I thought I could straighten you both but, both of you get out in the hall. When they went out, they had a friendly attitude about it, and when they got out in the hall, they laughed about it.
Q: Is that right?
A: So they got it off their cuff but its all better. So if you call the people in and ah, let them, each one give his side of it, and then you probably, you may come up with some type of an answer, but call them in one at a time, and this person will give his side and the other got his and you don't always get the true picture.
Q: Did you ever have to fire a teacher?
A: Only one teacher that I request during my--and I was in the school system for 35 years of being not returned and this teacher I think was having problem back then, I think this was in Jr. High, I think it was a drug situation.
Q: Oh. . .
A: This teacher was a Social Studies teacher and would sit in class on a very warm day, and the building was climate control so when you needed heat, you had heat and when you needed the air conditioner, you had the air conditioner. And she was sitting in there with an overcoat on with a big fur collar on it reading a newspaper and the students were just doing anything that they wanted to do around the classroom and so I requested the supervisor to come in and observe and it was her supervisor I requested, and he didn't want to have anything to do with it because I think her family supposed to have had some influence in the area and he said, I'm not going to bother that girl. So then I said, well something is going to happen to that girl. I've never had nobody like this, so then I went down and called the Director of Instructions. I told him. So he said alright, I'll be down there and give an observance and so I told her he said you can tell her what day. He gave me the day. So I told her, I said, the Director of Instructions will be into observe your class. She said, okay, he can come any day--and so when he came, I was sitting in the rear of the room, he was sitting about midway and I'll never forget, she had the student defining, ah, well she hadn't planned anything, but when we walked in, she looked around and said, Good Morning, Mr. C., Dr. K., have a seat. So we sat down, then she asked one of the students to go the next room and ask the English teacher to let her have ten dictionaries. So the kid brought them in. She said, you may have to share. Two of you may have to look on one dictionary. She said, I want you to find these words. She wrote these words and said, I'm just going to mention two of them. KRUSHEV-HITLER. . .and she told them to define these words. Now if she would have said or if the statement had been identify, I could go along with her but I can't find anybody I think could define KRUSHEV nor HITLER. So, Dr. K. looked around at me, and I tried--I pretended I was looking somewhere else. I wouldn't even look at him, so when we left anyway, he said, Mr. C., you really do have a problem. I said, yes. I said, did you see what she said to define? He said, Yeah! Krushev! So he said I gave her two weeks, I told her I would be back to observe her class. So, I went back and told her, I said, Dr. K. is going to come back in two weeks. You make sure you prepare a good lesson plan. That wasn't a good lesson plan. I'll be frank with you, your job is on the limb. So we went back and it was the same thing. She wasn't doing anything so when it came time for contract, I got the contract. They gave her a contract anyway. I don't see why Dr. K. didn't go ahead and make recommendation anyway that she not get another contract. I got the contract but I didn't give her the contract. I gave all the teachers a contract but her. I think it was her stepdaddy, he was the one who was supposed to have a lot of influence. He happened to be around the school area when I parked. He came over to my car and said, "Are you Mr. C.?" And I said, yes. How do you do? He said, have the teachers got their contracts yet? I said, "Yes, all but your daughter." She haven't gotten hers. He said, "Well, what's the hold up?" I said, "Well she has to prove to me that she can teach." Because she's not good, and I can't afford to--as a principal of this school, sit in my office or walk my corridors and see a teacher ruining children. I said, because she's out there ruining somebody's child. I wouldn't want my daughter or my son in her class and surely I wouldn't want yours in there. He said, well I hope you make your mind up and give her a contract. I said, well, if she doesn't do--she got to prove to me. So, I made up my mind, I went in the office and I sat down and wrote a letter requesting that she be released and I made it a strong case because I had given her all the opportunity and on one occasion, I even made up her lesson plan for her class--Social Studies. I carried it and gave it to her. I had a clerk to type and run it off and I gave her a copy. She said, Oh, I can do better than this. I said, well, until you show me that you can do better than this, I want you to use this, or you come up with something better or as good. Don't make no difference. I said, now I went over there, I asked you what you were teaching, and I prepared this plan. So now I sat down and wrote a letter anyway asking that she'd be dismissed and I also requested in the letter that she not be sent to another school because she was ruining children. I gave it to Dr. K. and he put an insert into verify the fact that he was observing her and he was substantiating everything that I had said in the letter and that he was going along with it. So I told him that if she gets a contract, that he'd have to give it to her. But they released her. She's the only teacher during my career really, that I ever fired. I've had teachers that wasn't doing too well but I got them on the right track and they proved a whole lot, but I couldn't with this lady and she was a young lady.
Q: What procedure do you thing should be carried out before a person is selected as a principal?
A: I think now days they ought to have almost like student teachers, they ought to have a training period in some schools or working under a principal or with a principal or with a principal. Maybe they do that now, I don't know.
Q: I don't know of any place where you can get actual experience as a principal.
A: Nothing is better than actual experience because you take your educational courses, they don't give you anything about--even a teacher, about the monthly report, that they have, you see, they need some first hand or at least have seen a monthly report and the principal needs to see something about an annual, a preliminary annual report, the annual report or scheduling and all these things that go along with the principalship.
Q: I see, that's really good. What was your biggest headache as a principal?
A: Say what now?
Q: Your biggest headache, your biggest problem as a principal?
A: The biggest headache?
A: I'm going to tell you, my biggest headache, and this doesn't probably exist now because, a principal just don't do it ah, when I was principal, any activities that my students were involved in, I was involved in too, to this point. If I had the course and they went, say from Crestwood Jr. High, went to Norfolk, and then they had to come back and see we had the bus--I would be out to that school until every child had got means to home.
Q: Is that right?
A: And those who did not have means, I would carry them home.
Q: Wow! No, you don't get that, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. . .
A: I would do that not only for chorus, that was in band or any activities that they were in. Course I, one thing I had been doing that when I was at the high school as assistant, I told you I thought I was an assistant principal. But I had been that then, when I was coaching girls and boys basketball and football, we saw to it that all children got home. . .
Q: Is that right?
A: That was before I went home. . .
Q: What do you think about merit pay for the teachers? You think teachers ought to get merit pay or you don't agree with or anything?
A: That's the problem, that's the only thing about it, is because I would admit, there are some teachers who are worth more. I would say, in terms of money, that some other teachers. Because to be frank, you wouldn't like to say, there are some teachers who get award for plenty, and I don't say that, be all positive, but to some extinct there's a lot of things that ought to happen before pity in terms of--I and the school in general. . . So, I don't know that the only thing about it, the hang up I would have about merit pay is who's going to do the evaluation because, if you send a principal to do this, there maybe some partiality, they're probably be saying that he like some teachers better than he do others and so, teachers whether you're grading them on performance or grading them on personality, and I like that, peoples personality. So it is difficult to get around. I think that's one reason we don't have it, if you have in some places, you don't have it on a large scale.
Q: Could you describe a typical work day as a principal? How did you spend your day as a principal? Did you just walk through the halls, or were you busy doing your--how did you spend most of your time?
A: Well, I tell you, when I'd come in, in the morning, I would naturally go to my office and find out if there's anything that had come up before I got there. Usually I would be at school when the first bus arrives and when the other people got in too. If there's anything that happened during the night, maybe a custodian or somebody else came up with a problem, before, and if it was anything that needed my assistance. I would usually be some where in the corridor when people came in to work and I was there to speak to them. I always believe in speaking that good morning to them when they came in. I would speak to the teachers, and if there were some staff people from the office to come in early in the morning, I would speak to them and also the students. I felt if people, if you begin to treat people like people, as in a good morning or smile rather than a frown all the time and not only waiting until the teachers had a problem to greet them then, but greet them first thing in the morning when they come in and that's part of the day and of course naturally you have those telephone calls coming in, so you're going to be on the telephone. It maybe someone from the Central Office, it maybe some parents to settle some problems by way of telephone. You always had student's who had been absent and they wanted permission maybe to get back or had to come back by the principals office to get into school. some probably who had been suspended for some minor problems and they had to come back and some of them, had to come back with their parents. We had a conference day with the parent to get them back on the right track and all these things didn't happen everyday. But you had reports to fill out, like your monthly reports, the summary, your preliminary annual reports which was twice a year, the annual report which was once a year. It used to be, I don't know whether they have to much--Stegracard reports because we're living in an area where you got the Navy Yards, the Naval Base and all these Federal Installations. Then you have some students that because they have federal students who's parent work for the government and live on government installations. So you have different classes, you have in federal connecting students that you have in a school system. It determines the amount of money that they get from one fund from the government. So we were working with them. Also the reports and in my situation, I had the lunch room too. There were, in my lunch room/cafeteria, they would bring their report down which had to be checked and signed by the principal.
Q: You were quite busy, weren't you?
A: There were quite a number of task, but they all didn't happen everyday.
Q: Before I ask the last question, I want to ask you this. Why did you retire when you did?
A: Well, I was old enough to retire.
Q: What have I not asked you that I should have asked? Is there anything?
A: I don't know.
Q: I asked you a lot of questions didn't I? A: Well, I certainly appreciate your time and your hospitality for allowing me to come in and if there's. . .
A: Well I hope that you got something out of this. . .
Q: Oh my! Welcomed information and what we're going to do is use this information to compile and achieve. . .
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