This is an interview with Nancy Calvert a retired Fairfax County principal.
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Q: Nancy can you give me some idea as to your background and how you began your career? What were your positions and responsibilities in Fairfax County?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I've been in Fairfax County School system for 30 years. Previous to coming to Fairfax County my undergraduate work was at Winthrop College in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and my greaduate degree was at George Washington University, after I had been in Fairfax County for a couple of years. I have taken other courses from correspondence from Laverne College in California and from the University of Virginia. Beginning my experience in Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), I was an elementary teacher for eight years then I became an assistant principal for 4 months and was at Bucknell Elementary. Then in January of 1966, I became principal of Hollin Meadows Elementary. I was at Hollin Meadows for approximately 4 years, then became a principal at Forestdale Elementary and was at Forestdale for 9 years and then moved on to Pine Spring Elementary. I was there for 6 years and then I moved to Garfield Elementary and was there for 2 1/2 years. In October of 1986, I moved to the Administrative Offices in Area I and worked there as a resource teacher until June 1, 1987, at which time I retired. All of my experiences have been pleasant working conditions, since I've enjoyed working with the people, the many people that I worked with, I thinkmy most enjoyable experience was probably working in the Area I Office because it was, there were so many tasks and different tasks to do and the people in the office were very professional and we had a very good professional relationship and enjoyed the time spent in discussing various educational issues, at that point in time. I enjoyed my experience in Fairfax County, and I have no other county, no other school system to discuss since all my time has been in Fairfax.
Q: Why did you decide to become a principal?
A: That's a very good question. I don't know that that would have been my first choice. I was called by personnel to see if I would like the position of assistant principal. At that time in FCPS, I did not have to go before a panel and I discussed it with several people in personnel and made a decision, at that point in time, I would see if that was the area that I would like to move into, administration wise in FCPS. Then after becoming an assistant principal and being at Bucknell for only 4 months Mr. Burkholder who at that point in time was the assistant superintendent in personnel came down and asked me to take the position of principal at Hollin Meadows, that they felt that I was ready for the task and so I moved on into administration that way and have never regretted it. Being principal was quite a challenge, I think, in Fairfax County. And I think, at that point in time, it was, I had feltmaybe that I had a little more backing than I did later on in the experience. To give you a little bit of background, in those days we had what we called elementary supervisors and your elementary supervisor, there was one for the primary level and an elementary supervisor for the 4th through 6th grade. They were by your building at least once a month if not offener, if not more often. Then they came, of course, on call and any teacher of course too could call and ask for their help or expertise in a certain area. They would look up research for you, they would also come in and do demonstration lessons, they would also come in and help a teacher set up reading groups if she felt that she needed help in that and they were very willing to come in and help in any area that you felt, at that point in time, you needed help. Many years later, the elementary supervisors were changed and that's when the Department of Instruction was formed and you had begun to have your expertise in the different, in the different phases of the curriculum. For instance, you had someone in charge of language arts, math, social studies and so forth. We felt, we meaning some of the elementary principals felt, that, at that point in time, a lot of those people were high school oriented and were not as familiar with the elementary curriculum as possibly they should have been. I think with the advent of area offices, when that came into focus, which was about 1967, 1968, in the county, that slowly began to change and you began tohave some people with the knowledge of the elementary curriculum.
Q: We've talked before about our ideas about establishing learning climates and I know we've discussed this when we were in the area office, but how did you create a climate for learning in your school?
A: Well, I guess I feel in an elementary school, the most immportant person in that school is the child, and I guess I feel you have to have the child with the teacher that is going to make the child move, or grow is a better word, grow to the fullest potential that that particular child can grow. If you don't have the factors there, I feel, that make for that learning environment for that child, the whole point of education is lost or missing for that particular child. So, I think you have to look at how the child is going to learn and if the teacher, if that particular teacher whose room that child is going to be put teaches the strategies that that particular child is going to pick up whether it be from the visual, the kinesthetic, whatever method that child is going to learn best within and you've got to have supportive teachers that care about children and are going to be able to take and mold that child into what that child needs to become.
Q: You're a real child oriented principal and I know that you spent time in the classrooms working with or seeingthe children or seeing the learning that went on in the classroom. Is there anything that you did to encourage teachers to provide the kind of environment that you saw as necessary for your students in your schools? Staff development, maybe or...
A: Well, I guess there was a lot, it is hard sometime to go back and retrieve what you did maybe to help that and it was not all champagne and roses either because you, of course, are going to have some teachers that are going to be resistant to this and also to, when I moved into a building as a new principal I always knew that there were going to be some teachers that would be very leery of any changes that were to be made and I was one that moved a little slowly in that area because I always felt you have to bring the teachers along with you and you don't go in and change everything overnight. Even in one year you sort of have to take it slow and easy. But I guess one thing that I worked at very closely at Forestdale, that the county went into, but I do think was a good strategy and that was with Glasser and we had a big, we taught Glasser at Forestdale another teacher and myself for a two year period there with the particular staff we had, at that point in time, and I guess I really think with the they were called at that time "Glasser Circles". I felt they really worked. After that, I moved from Forestdale I really tried to get and worked along with the other staff to try to get them to see the importance of a "Glasser Circle". I think the importance ofthat is that you are pulling the children with you when you do that and you have every child involved in the discussion of something that is of importance to the class whether it is behavior in the cafeteria behavior, on the playground, or how are we going to solve a problem that has happened within the classroom? I guess I felt within that circle that every child had an opportunity to talk and all the other children did listen and respected that particular point of view of that child so I guess, that was really one thing that I felt helped create a good learning environment. The other staff development I felt went on especially within the school structure was I felt it was sort of planned by Fairfax County. You had to do this and to do that and there were several years sometimes that there were a lot of inservices that you had to do and so therefore your inservices were almost automatically planned and you did not have automony in your building that you could sort of do what you wanted to do. Sometimes in those areas, it was a little hard to do that I felt also when the one thing that I think the teachers enjoyed and I know I enjoyed is when we got together to discuss children and that was once a week with the psychologist, and the social worker, and the teacher, and the parents if they wanted to come and myself. We met together to discuss the child, it was called elgibility, but a teacher could bring up any child in their classroom, at that point in time, and it was sort of good to get opinions of the other people involved because you had the speechtherapist, and you had the reading teacher, the librarian, depending upon schedules, sometimes you had the music teacher and the P.E. teacher and all these people were involved usually in working with the particular child that was brought up. So it was very inciteful and excellent information when you got everybody together to discuss this one child and the various things that were happening to the child in the various situations he was in.
Q: Thank you, we've talked a little bit about how you got teachers to do some of the things you wanted to do you did mention that staff development was important. Coming toward the end of the year we have to evaluate teachers and how did you evaluate your teachers?
A: Evaluation is one of the most complex issues in the school system. Before it became so formalized in Fairfax County I usually was in and out of the classrooms. I can't say I was in every classroom every day, but within a weeks period I tried to move in and out of every classroom. Let me say, I think as an adminstrator, after you are in the business for a while, you can go in the classroom and stay 10 minutes and know what is going on and sometimes those little short visits is what I would do and usually as I would do that I would, the teacher and I sometimes as I said this was done very informally and I would pull the teacher aside maybe in that afternoon before she would leave the building, and we would discuss for just a few minutes what Ihad seen that day maybe you would like to try this tomorrow, with that particular group you were working with or why not try out this technique with the whole class tomorrow, and so forth. So, sometimes it was done in an informal fashion but yet it was all usually written down and discussed or talked about with the teacher, at that point in time. Just a little side note, I remember when I was teaching in Fairfax, I never saw my evaluations. The principal wrote them up, sent them in to personnel, so even to this day, I have never gone to personnel to see my evaluations.
Q: Could you at that time have gone to personnel and looked at that folder?
A: Yes, I think I could have. I'm not sure because I really didn't even try. But thinking back on it, I just happened to think of where evaluations has evolved from. I just thought it was very interesting that, at that point in time, I never saw any of mine and they were just sent in and you didn't have to sign them or anything else, and in the long run as I think about it they had to be good or I don't think anybody would have come and said would you like to be an assistant princial. So anyway in Fairfax, they became very formalized and then you had to do at least two evaluations a year, on the teachers, and that was when you had to do the whole staff and so I had sort of a check list I had developed myself because Fairfax had not come up with a system, a formal system at that time. It was just thatyou had to do two evaluations. I had come up with a checklist plus a written statement for the teacher and I usually sat down with the teacher we discussed it and went over it. Then it was divided up by alphabet so that you did A-M and N-Z. The fallacy in that was that sometimes most of my school ended up in A-M so you were almost doing the whole school anyway. When that happened now, of course, the evaluation system as of this year has become very complex and I think we'll discuss that later.
Q: I know that you really got to know your staff very well and when I was in your building in an audit at Pine Spring, the teachers were so happy. What techniques did you use to make your teachers so happy?
A: Oh, my goodness, I don't know. I guess when I went to work in the morning I tried to sort of put myself in a mood whereby as the teachers came in the door they would see me in a happy mood no matter what mood they were in and I tried to leave most of my troubles at home which is what I think you have to do when you're on the job. But I always tried to be in the office available as the teachers came in in the morning just to say hello how are you. And a lot of times you would or I would know maybe they had gone out the night before or they had a child that was sick or an animal that was sick or something had happened and could comment on that. So I tried to get them in a mood in which they could start their day off in a good frame of mind. And I guessmoving in and out of their rooms, some of them felt really good that I would come in and out of their rooms and sit down and work with the children and talk with the children, this type of thing. I tried to get to know all of the children in my school by name I think which always helps when you are moving up and down the hall, or cafeteria or playground or wherever, you can call a child by name and not have to say, "Hey you."
Q: You were only a vice principal for 4 months, or an assistant principal, and if you had to do it over again, what would you do to prepare yourself better to be a principal? That's kind of trial by fire.
A: That's the way it was in those days, when you became a principal. I guess it was kind of trial by fire. I was, let me say too, I was one of the first assistant principals in Fairfax County. They were doing like a pilot at that time and four of us that were in the pilot as assistant principals, which I guess was kind of interesting because up until that point there were very few assistant principals in the elementary schools. To be honest with you, I don't know what I would do to prepare myself, as in this day, probably in Fairfax County, I think being a principal has become very complex. So, I think there are a lot of things that probably, before you become a principal there are a lot of things, you need to prepare yourself for and I think you need to especially if you are in anelementary school in a teacher capacity. You need to do maybe some observing as far as what your principal is doing in the building or maybe discuss with the principal as far as budgets, because I think that that is one of the most important things, budgets, and your objectives and how your principal gets to the point of developing the objectives for your particular school and work with the PTA is a very prime ingredient. How does your principal go about working with the PTA because in developing the objectives for your school you should work with the staff, the PTA, and sometimes with students if they need to be involved, and certainly sometimes in the elementary school that is difficult but you can sort of pick up a little bit, by talking with students, with, especially some of the older fifth and sixth graders, what improvements need to be made in certain areas in the school. So, I guess that is just a few of the things that I think, in becoming a principal, these days, that you need to look at or study.
Q: The next question is probably going to be hard. Having myself grown up in central California, in a very small farming community, the civil rights issue didn't have much of an impact. We all went to the same schools, no matter what, because there was only one to choose from. Was that a difficult time and how did you handle some of the problems that resulted as part of the civil rights issue?
A: I think it was a difficult time. When I became principal of Hollin Meadows, that particular year, 1965-66, was the first year of integration in Fairfax County. Hollin Meadows drew from Gum Springs those of you who are listening to this and are famililar with the Gum Springs Community, we drew half of the children from the Gum Springs complex. Gum Springs children went to James Lee School which was a total, totally black school and one of the black schools in Fairfax County and let me just say, that it was a difficult time period, I think, in Fairfax for teachers as well as parents. I think the children adjusted very well to the situation and I think some of the parents and teachers had a difficult time, I think, adjusting to the climate, at that point in time.
Q: As a principal, can you think back on what was your biggest concern, overall just a global concern that was always on your mind? I know you're a child oriented principal, so I know that those were major concerns and things you thought about a lot, were your students that was very obvious, and what went on in your teacher's lives outside of school was important also, but can you think of any concerns that seem to be there frequently?
A: I think that's hard to, hard to bring out, at this time. It's, even being away from it for four months, is hard to think back what was sort of there all the time. I think one of the issues in the last couple of years waswhen we would have a serious abuse case with the chilren that we would have to tackle at that point in time. It really hit home sometimes because you think those things never happen, but they do and they're there and they are real. And I guess that's when I went to the Pine Spring community. I guess that was one of the bigger issues that confronted me was the child abuse issue.
Q: Were going back now to what we started to talk about little earlier, career ladders for teachers and as you said, this year is a very different year for evaluations for teachers and what do you think about career ladders and merit pay?
A: Let me start out with the old jargon, that's a very good question. I guess when you get down to it there should be some differentiation in pay for teachers because when you look around a school building you're going to see, there are going to be many teachers that maybe are there only on their time contract say from 8:00 to 3:30. But, it is what they do within that time structure, that you might say it is the people that say beyond hours that pull it and that is not necessarily so. As I was beginning to say, I think you need to look at what they've put in to the hours they are there and that they work. The structure that I think has been set up in Fairfax is very complex and unfortunately, I have talked to many excellent teachers in the last six months that said, "I don't want to go throughall of that in order to be, in order to attain career ladder II. I will just stay where I am, because I do not have the time nor the energy to put forth in doing good, research, and writing the books and articles and so forth that one of them said to do." Interestingly enough, most of those I have talked to are elementary teachers. I have talked also to one high school teacher that felt the same way that she puts all her energy into teaching all day, and working with the children and she doesn't have time to sit down and write the articles and the necessary papers that is being required at this point in time. And it is very unfortrunate that, I guess I feel it is very unfortunate, these teachers are going to be missing out on the monitary value for what they are putting into their teaching. And knowing these people that I've talked to as I do, and having seen them teach and know that they are excellent teachers, is just very sad that they are not going to involve themselves in this pay system. I think judging teachers is one of the hardest things that you can judge because you are not like in a company. In a company, you are usually judging some kind of output that that person has done. A salesman, you judge them by how much they sell that month, if they have the get up and go to get out and do that particular task for that month. But in teaching, I think you can't judge by their test scores, because a teacher is going to have a different group of children every year. The group varies each year, you're not going to have your top notch gifted children in your classevery year and so I think it is very difficult to judge a teacher by, if you're going to use test scores. I just don't think you can do that.
Q: The process, how do you feel as a principal reading reports done by people coming from outside of your building to observe your teachers? You will make, as a principal, one observation that is announced, and one that is unannounced and then you will have four observations done by two other people. How do you think that works about putting it all together, and then having..., well do you ,I guess what I'm asking is, do you think that's going to help principal's make those decisions using those reports written by other people coming in to ovserve the teacher?
A: I think it will help but my understanding is, the principal has the sole responsibility in the long run. And, I'm sure that it would help the principal in the fact that what maybe what he or she is thinking, at that point in time, am I correct in my assumptions of this particular teacher so that I think will help but in the long run. The principal has to know that he has the sole responsibility in the end of the evaluations.
Q: You know something that concerns me a great deal is being on an intervention team. How do you think principals will feel about people from the outside coming in to assist the teachers that have not received an effective evaluation?
A: I think a lot of that is going to be the mind set of the teacher, who you are going in on the intervention team to work with. If that teacher feels that the principal has it in for her, and that is why she made such a low grade, or low mark, then I don't know that anything is going to change her, or her mind so to speak. I don't know that you will see any growth there. If on the other hand if she feels that yes, I made the low mark because I do need help, and how can you help me and how can we work together to pull myself up by the boot straps, so to speak, and work together for this, yes you will see growth. But I think that in the end it's going to be how the teacher perceives herself in that. Do you feel that way? "Yes."
Q: Several of the teachers who did not receive effective evaluations requested transfers and some did not get them, do you think that this process is going to affect our recruitment process?
A: It probably will.
Q: You as a principal, how did you get new members of your team, how did you select teachers, new teachers to come on board as being a teacher in your building?
A: Well, when I started moving around so much sometimes they followed me or came with me. And, if it was a teacher that I felt was strong and that I wanted, I would let them come. A lot of times, they didn't come the firstyear, because I sort of had a rule, and it was my rule, that I did not feel it was fair to the teachers in the building into which I was going, to be bringing other teachers with me. If they wanted to come a year or two later fine, but not the first year. But I did have some that followed me after a while and it's, I think that's difficult. I think it is going to effect the transfer and whether the county is going to say if you have made a low mark and you can't transfer that you need to stay until you pull yourself out of, I don't know how the county is going to, I think a lot of that is going to be up to whether the county is going to let the teachers do that or not.
Q: You have really been positive to me when we have talked about becoming an administrator, what advice would you give someone like me who is considering an administrative position?
A: DON'T DO IT! I guess I feel anybody going into administration, these days needs to think long and hard about is that the position that they want to be in in the county and I think it seems that, of course here I am already retired, and not affected by it but I think that now administration has become much more critical, and crucial and there are a lot of areas that are affecting education that was not affecting education say even ten years ago. And you get into the areas of teaching about AIDS, you get into more than just AIDS, we came with AIDS, and you getinto communicable diseases. In one of the schools I was in just recently, we had a child that came with a highly contagious disease and of course it was the type of disease cyglo-meglo virus, I believe, and that might not be the correct pronunciation but, the child is born with this and it gets no better. A few of the teachers all but refused to work with the child because it affects pregnant women, and it affects them in a way that the virus gets into their system and therefore gets into the fetus and so the child is born with this. But we had the health officials, the Special Ed. personnel and everybody talking with the teachers and discussing with them the cleanliness issue and it all boiled down to the cleanliness of yourself when you finished working with the child because these teachers were working with the child in a preschool environment. This is in Special Ed. and the children are 2 to 4 years old, so a lot of times you had to change the diapers and clean up a lot after the children so that is why you can become infected with the virus, so therefore, it just means after you have finished working with the child that you wash your hands and be sure you have cleaned yourself good with that. But these are some of the issues, I think, that are coming into the foreplay now, within some of the school systems in some of the schools and, of course, if you do not have Special Ed. in your building, a lot of times, it will not affect you. But I think in the long run, everybody, in this day and time, is going to have some type of special ed.program in their school. But, I think if you, Jan, want to become an administrator, I say more power to you. I think you have to prepare yourself by taking courses and learning what you can, you can't learn everything through taking courses, I don't think, all the time. Sometimes it does have to be trial by fire. And I think you learn a lot by experience, and I think the experiences you are getting being in the area office and having to sometimes go out and stay in a school a day or two when an administrator is not in the building, is very helpful because you do learn a lot that way, by practicing by experience.
Q: One thing I noticed while I was out in one of the buildings recently, as an acting principal, I spent a lot of time in the classrooms, talking to the children, I spent my lunch hour with them in the lunch room, and I went to visit the music class. At the end of the day, I sat back and realized that I had done absolutely no paper work, I had not returned the phone calls from the parents, and I realized I don't know how I could get everything in that I needed to do. What would you like to have spent more time doing when you the principal and what responsibilities kept you from doing those kinds of things?
A: I would have liked to have stayed in the classroom, I think, all the time because, to me that is where the action is. But, what does prevent you is all of the little, little things that you wish you didn't have tofool with such as, paper work, that is demanded of you from the top down, and of course has to be done. If you do have a good secretarial staff, that knows you well, you can usually pass through the office and say,"I want this done ...", and so forth and usually they can usually draft it for you and then you can sit down and look at it and make changes within that and so forth. The other thing, I think that sometimes prevents this is parent demands and I don't think the parents realize this sometimes but some of their demands, parent demands do take a lot away from, and by parent demands, I mean parents coming in without appointments, just dropping in and wanting to see you, and I was the kind that I felt that if I was in the office and a parent came in I would just as soon see them right then and there and take care of the problem, at that point in time, rather than have them going away from the building stewing and having to come back at another time. But, those are some of the things that does prevent you from being in the classrooom and which to me is where you should be.
Q: We talked a little bit earlier about the kinds of teachers you'd like to choose to be in your building, but how did you place teachers into classrooms, how did you, sayI'm certified 4-7, why would you have put me in a particular grade level, say if you decided I would be a 5th grade teacher. How did you choose where to put your teachers?
A: I think the first year I was ever in a building, I left teachers where they were. Then, after reviewing and observing and watching for one full year of that particular teacher in that particular situation, I did make some moves and I think a lot of times it's dependent on whether you feel, certification does play a part of it, but I think, on the other hand, you have to look does that teacher fit the needs of the particular age group that she's working with, at that point in time. Sometimes you make moves up and down the ladder, in an elementary school, grade wise. The other thing I would usually ask teachers about April, March or April, if they had any druthers as far as whether they would like to be in a different grade level and why, that they could let me know and we would negotiate, so to speak, as whether I felt if that is where they should be or not. Then I think, too, you have to look at whether that teacher is going to, her personality is going to mesh with the personalities of say the other teachers at that particular grade level. So, I think you have to look at that also. But, I think first and foremost it should be whether she fits in, her teaching style fits in, with the style of that particular grade level.
Q: When you went to the transfair and interviewed teachers, did you have any particular things in mind that helped you choose who you chose?
A: When I was interviewing, whenever I interviewed for a teacher, I liked to have an interview longer than we had at the transfair. I usually spent about, at least 45 minutes to an hour for an interview. A lot of times I had the teachers explain to me how they would teach a reading lesson and also how they would teach a math lesson and sometimes I would give them a particular social studies topic and ask them how they would go about working with this particular topic and what they would bring into the classroom, or whatever in the particular social studies topic what field trips they would be interested in taking, with that and so forth. So a lot of times, I dealt with in an interview as far as what they would be doing in the classroom and then also, how they would deal with a behavior, a particular behavior, in the classroom. If the child was cutting up, or if a child had thrown paper across the room whatever, how they would deal with that situation, at that point in time, if they were in the process of conducting a lesson.
Q: As we talk about now, we'll change focus here and then we'll come back to some other things, but what are you happiest about being retired and what things do miss?
A: EVERYTHING! I have, what I have missed most I guess, is the children and being around the children during the day, because to me, that was the happiest time of the day, greeting the children and telling them good-by everydayand just sort of being there with them in the middle of the day. And I always wanted children to feel like they could come to my office any time they wanted to, to discuss anything and not just because they were in trouble. So, that's what I miss. What I am enjoying about it I have, I am enjoying being able to take advantage of a lot of things that I have not been able to take advantage of and that is taking classes, when I say classes I'm not talking about educational classes, I'm talking about arts and crafts classes and I enjoy painting and swimming and I have enjoyed going swimming in the middle of the day and taking art classes in the middle of the day and being able to get up in the morning and say, "Hey, I want to do this today.", and I can do that today.
Q: We all have a mentor or someone out there that kind of helped us along. Who would you say is your mentor?
A: Probably a lady that was, which was very interesting, she and I shared our two schools together. Her school was not ready one year and so her whole school and staff, children and herself, moved into my building at Hollin Meadows and she was probably 20 to 30 years my senior, and I learned a lot of things from her. Just to tell you, when we were sharing the school together, we tried to get, these were the days when Mr. Coffey was in administration. I don't know how many of you listening to this were around during this era, but at this point in time,Mr. Burkholder was assistant superintendent in personnel and Mr. Coffey was an assistant superintendent for one of the areas and I cannot remember which, Mr. Chesley was up there, and Mr. Funderburk was superintendent at the time. But anyway, Miss Hoag and I tried to get Mr. Coffey to let us be alternate principals, she would be principal one week and then I would come in and be principal the next week, but they didn't allow that. We thought that would be fun.
Q: Talking about superintendent's, what are the characteristics of the superintendent that you found most effective for allowing you the most leeway in allowing you to run your school in the way you wanted to?
A: You don't mean by name? "Probably not." But, I think it was a superintendent that really allowed flexibility within the school programs and structure and you worked within a framework, but within that framework you could organize your programs and be a little bit flexible about the things you tried in your building. One that was very humane, one that knew everyone's name in the county and call you by name, and was very businesslike when the occasion demanded but yet could be very personable and fun loving and enjoyed being around people.
Q: If there were three areas of operations which you could change, what would they be?
A: I think one of the things is if someone could come into your building and take the burden of the budget process and the dealing with trying to decide which objectives your school needs, I think that is two of the issues right there. Of course, they sort of mesh in together as far as budget and objectives sort of go together. The other area too that to me would be wonderful but a principal could not avoid it, and that is evaluating teachers. But that is something that I think as a principal you have to do, but that would be one of the areas. But it is hard, but I guess to have someone, in my way of thinking, I think every elementary school needs an assistant principal. I don't care what your population is or the numbers and of course Fairfax County does go by numbers when assigning assistant principals. But, and I think that person could really take a lot of burden off the principal by dealing with the area of custodians, the cafeteria, the food service workers, and the main office area, as far as secretarial time and when they are going to work,and this type of thing, taking some of those little day to day choresaway from you, I think sometimes, helps. The fact that you can then deal with the moving into the classroom each day, evaluating teachers and maybe dealing with parents when necessary.
Q: Just the few days that I've spent as an acting principal, I realize that there are days when there is a lotof stress in the building with teachers, children, and parents, and all the facets, what did you do to help maintain sanity?
A: I laughed a lot! I guess I always felt that if a day went by in which you didn't have laughter or something in the building that it was so wrong, so I think you do have to have some levity in the building and you sort of have to not make light of a situation but turn it around to the positive rather than to the negative all the time. Try to approach things that way, but you do have to have some humor in there.
Q: We know that you have a lot of energy and you have lots of plans and you are too young to be retired. Why did you choose to retire at this time?
A: Well, I think for those of you that are listening into the throws of retirement in Fairfax County, you know that within you need to retire before you hit 30 years in the system of FCPS. In the Fairfax County Retirement System, you need to retire before you hit 30 years in the county, and I'm not going to go into on the tape why, and those of you hearing the tape probably know why. Therefore, I have, I feel proud about this, I have to retire before I'm 55, and I have had to take a reduction. I cannot retire from the state until I am 55 so I have a couple more years to go before I can retire from the state. I am living on a very fixed sort of low income right now compared to what Ihave been living on but I guess I feel it is worth it for my sanity and my piece of mind, at this point in time. I'm thoroughly enjoying it.
Q: Do you see yourself going back to work someplace doing something else?
A: Not now, I don't want to have to get up in the morning right now at 6:00a.m. I said if I could get another job and work from 10:00 - 2:00, it might be fine, but not right now.
Q: Can you think of anything that I have not asked you that I should have about the changes you have seen in the county over the years. Is there anything that stands out in your mind that I have failed to address?
A: No, I think we went into the changes I wanted to get into. I was here also in the throws of the changes of Fairfax when we went into administrative areas. It was interesting to see the changes because I was principal at Hollin Meadows and had only been there two years, when the administrative area one and two started and the Hollin Meadows had about 8 classrooms that weren't being used so the area office moved into Hollin Meadows, into one wing of the building and that was, I think, sort of a real adjustment for all of us at that school to take in, the teachers included. It was fun and it was sort of nice to begin to see changes in the county. I think the area,administrative areas, have made a big difference in the county and it has helped with the growth we have seen in the last ten to fifteen years in the county. It has been nice to feel that you can pick up the phone quickly and call somebody in the area and get help.
Q: Nancy, thank you very much for taking the time to do this, I appreciate the time you've taken to review the questions and to give me some very honest answers.
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