Today is July15, 1998. This is an interview with J.C. Callahan about his experience as principal. The interview took place into his home in Christiansburg, VA.
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Q: So, J.C., would you begin by, uh, telling us a little bit about your family background, where you're from originally, interesting childhood experiences, birthplace, biographical kind of stuff.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I, uh, my family's originally from West Virginia, uh, a small town, uh, coal mining, timber-country, and uh, my father was a teacher in the industrial arts program at the high school. My mother was also a teacher, although after I was born she didn't teach on a regular basis for a number of years, and when I was a sophomore in high school, my father died. So then, she went back to basically full-time teaching at that point, and uh, I've had on my father's side--two aunts that were also long-time teachers, an uncle who, uh, was also a teacher, and growing up, I had no idea what it was I wanted to do, uh, even though I had all those influences, and it really didn't come about until the latter part of my senior year, uh, I decided to at least explore that possibility. I made an application to Glenville State College, which was a small, uh, college in West Virginia, and uh, was accepted. My mother, in fact, talked me into going to summer school with her. She was going back to help renew her certificate, so another friend and I went. He had also just graduated, and I figured this would give me an opportunity to see whether I liked college life, and uh, I was there with some other friends from our hometown--that's kinda where everybody went. I had a good time--played a lot of softball, did a lot of swimming, and began to learn a little bit about college life, and uh, so I decided yeah, I'd go ahead and try to give it a go and see what happened. In fact, I even went back to summer school the next summer, and graduated from Glenville in actually about 3 1/2 years because of those two summer school programs.
Q: Actually, that leads into the next question, somewhat, because I was interested in when you gained insight--I know it's not like a light-bulb turning on and off, but--interesting that you said you didn't even begin to think about it until your senior year. Uhm, can you discuss college education and preparation in terms of teacher--or educational principles--uhm- leadership, then also how many years you served as a teacher, uh, in any particular area, and then finally, as principle.
A: Well, Glenville State College was primarily a teacher preparation college. Uh, I would say probably about 75% of the people who went there, uh, became teachers. They did have some other, uh, prep. programs, as well as other 4-year programs too, but...uh, since I was a, uh, played sports in high school and attempted to play a little bit in college, I automatically went into Secondary Education with Physical Education as a major. And, uh, I picked up Social Studies as a minor, and, uh, did student teaching in both of --both of those areas, and, uh, as I said earlier, I finished in 3 1/2 years and by the time I was finished, I was already married and, uh, my son was already born, and I was concerned about what I was going to do for that second semester--uh--and I guess word got around--uh--and it so happened that, unfortunately, on the one hand, that an individual in the school system in my home county (who was assistant superintendent) had died, and they pulled a principal from an elementary school there, and they called me on a Friday--they asked me if I wanted to go to work on Monday.
A: So, uh, I started out, then, teaching in one of the elementary schools that I attended in my hometown--uh, knew many of the kids because I had been a supervisor--or director--of the pool there for several summers, and so I knew most of those kids. And, uh, then went on the next year to another elementary school out in the county--uh--and taught a full year there. I taught--between the two schools, I taught everything from 4th-grade Reading to 8th-grade Science--uh--at that time, 8th-grade was still in the elementary schools, so under my certification, I was still qualified to do that. And, uh, after those two years, uh, I wanted to coach, and I couldn't get into the high school--there were no openings, no coaching openings, or whatever, so ... we just put out resumes and ended up down here in Christiansburg--they offered me a position down here as an 8th-grade, uh, physical education teacher. And, uh, also, history teacher, and also coaching. Uhm, I stayed in that position--I stayed at the high school for 6 years--uhm, and the last--well, I taught full-time two years, the next two years I was part--taught part-time, part-time guidance counselor, then the last two years, I was full-time guidance counselor (full-time in a 10-month basis).
A: During that time, I was also working on my Master's degree at Radford- uh--with a major in Guidance and a minor in Psychology. Uh, and, an individual talked with me as I was preparing that particular program, that I probably ought to look into becoming certified, uh, to be an elementary school principal. And, it just so happened between those two programs, I was able to work in the required courses that made me certified, uh, to be an elementary school principal. So, actually, when I retired last year, I had 35 years experience between the two in West Virginia, the 33 here in Virginia--uh, 8 years actual classroom and/or guidance, uh, and then 27 years in, uh, administration--from Elementary principal to principal.
Q: That's--I've made some notes, some, some follow-up to that, so I'm going to veer from these lists of questions, if that's okay with you. Uhm, when you were transferred, then- not transferred--but when you said you went to a different school, after that Friday you got the call to go work Monday, you finished that year. So you're fresh out of college with a bachelor's, and uh, so you worked the rest of that year--was your transfer by choice?
A: No, they actually had told me that, that this would be only till end of the year because what, what they were gonna do was they were gonna bring in another individual to be principal. And, unless there was any turnover in that school, I would have to move somewhere else, and of course, they all at the same time knew that I really wanted to go into the high school so that I could do coaching.
A: Uh, nobody else retired or anything, and this opening, uh, came up, uh, at another elementary school, and so I did volunteer coaching at the same time that year, again, trying to get back into the high school, but, uh, again, no openings came up. And, uh, so I decided it was time to go elsewhere.
Q: Uh-hmmm, and what about the, uhm, any certification requirements going from West Virginia to Virginia? Was that...?
A: That wasn't a problem, uh, at that time, I think they reciprocated back and forth between the two, uh, even though I did not have Virginia history at that time, uh, I think, uh, they accepted the fact that I had had West Virginia history as a part of my curriculum, so that, that was no problem.
Q: Okay, and so when you, uhm, began working in Montgomery County, and did your few years of, of the history and coaching and the 8th-grade--at the 8th-grade level, and you began, then, the guidance part, was that because that's where there was an opening, and that's where you were needed? Or--because--I didn't know this about you--that you had all these different....
A: Well, I also taught driver education, I taught summer school, uh, Senior History, Junior History, and all that....The reason for the guidance counseling is that actually, during the second year, when I was teaching in West Virginia, uh, my mother--again, her influence--you need to go ahead and begin working on re-certification. I've forgotten how many years you had to re-certify, but--so there were some extension courses offered from West Virginia University there in our hometown, and I took them, and in fact, both of them happened to be in the area of Guidance. And, our high school had never had a guidance counselor. Once I began working down here in the high school and saw the value of Guidance Counselors, and so forth, I -- as I began thinking about working on my master's or continuing to work on it, then that was the area that I wanted to go into. And even before I completed my master's program, I spent two years as a part-time counselor--at that time, I was teaching 8th-grade History, and so I was also working with the 8th-graders in mapping out their plans for the next 4 years. Uh, and then, it opened up--I don't remember how or why, that I became a full-time counselor, began working with the 8th-graders and also juniors, as my assigned areas.
Q: So, after you began, then, to do the administration certification, after the Master's--after the Master's, right?--
A: Actually, in conjunction with--as I took the guidance and the coursework for Guidance and Psychology, I was able to work in the courses. It--yeah, I ended up with about, uhhh, 9 hours more than what was actually required in order to get those in. And I did that mainly as a back-up because my goal was to be a full-time, 12-month, employed Guidance Counselor. And, in fact, the summer of 1970, I went to the superintendent--I was teaching Driver Education and also managing Ridgewood Swim Club--uh, I went to him and said, "I want to, at the end of this next year, I want to explore- no, not explore--I want a position in the guidance program on a 12-month basis." And he said, "Well, you know those jobs are very rare--not everybody who's in Guidance is on a 12-month contract." I said, "Well, I know--I'm putting my 2-cents worth in now." And, that was early in July. Two weeks later, I got a phone call from the superintendent's office telling me to meet him at the school board office at such-n-such a time. Again, I was out on the road, but I got the message, and I took one of my students who was in Driver Ed. and he took me over there, and the superintendent said, "We have an opening for an assistant principalship at Christiansburg Primary School."
A: And so we talked about it for a little bit and talked about how that deviated from being a Guidance Counselor and so forth, and I said, "Well, how long do I have to think about it?" And he said, "Take all the time you need, but in 24 hours...we need an answer." Uh, so I counseled the rest of my Driver Ed. classes and came home and sat down with my wife and talked with her about it, and uh, my son at that time had just completed 2nd grade--and, uh, when we arrived at the decision that yes, I would go ahead and TRY that and see what it was like, since I'd already had experience in Elementary, it wasn't completely a foreign thing to me. Uh, told my son that evening and he became very, very upset--uh--because--uh--NOT because I was going to be an assistant principal in his school (that didn't really bother him)--what bothered him was that I was no longer going to be Basketball Coach. Uh, because he had formed a bond with all the players- he was our mascot--traveled with us on the bus, came to practice with us, and the whole bit. Uh, it took several days for him to get over that, but- so, that's how I got into Elementary Administration, and I stayed at the Primary School for 3 years as Assistant Principal, and then that's when they opened up the new Christiansburg Primary School. They split...
Q: From the.... elementary?
A: Well, what is currently the Elementary School--they just simply renamed that Christiansburg Elementary, and then Christiansburg Primary, the new building took the name Christiansburg Primary School.
Q: So, were you then, principal of that new building?
A: Yes, uh, it was, uh, kinda strange, as they were building it down below the hill there, nobody knew who was going to be Principal or anything else. Everybody was assuming it was going to be me, but nobody had come to talk to me about it. And, uh, finally, I don't know, probably in mid-year, before it was completed, the Superintendent called me in and asked me if I wanted that school, or there was a possibility of two other schools in the county. Uh, principalships were going to open, and I had my choice, and uh, I--this time I didn't ask him how long I had to wait to tell him (or how long I had to think about), but I told him I would take Christiansburg Primary School.
Q: Oh, you told him that day?
A: I told him that day. Uh, because my wife and I had already talked about it -that if it were offered, well, I would take it. And, uh, it was strange in the fact that the building was already planned, already under way, uh, I had no input into anything about it. I was told, uh, that we would just simply move the first- and second-graders down there and we would be opening up kindergarten for the first time. We would close the old Wella Baker's School, over in Cambria--uh, and those students would be merged into Christiansburg Primary and Christiansburg, Elementary. Teaching staff would come from, uh, the first- and second-grade teachers at the Elementary School and those from Wella Baker and the kindergarten staff, then, I would have to hire.
A: So, everything was pretty well laid out, as far as that was concerned. It would just be, then, a question of, how do we fit everything into all of that?
Q: So, it was pretty much a central-office--giving you some choices regarding campuses (or buildings)--but then most of the decisions were made at the central office?
A: Yes, I had no choice over carpet or colors or anything along that line--nor did I have a choice over playground equipment. All that had been set in the budget, which was a far cry different from what we did at Falling Branch, but I guess we'll get to that at some point.
Q: Yeah, I was just trying to summarize for myself, then, that this means that you have been the leader in the opening of two brand new schools.
A: Yes, which, is unusual. Not, not too many people had an opportunity to do that. And as more schools are being built and so forth, that may happen again, but as far as I know, that was, uh, I was probably the only one, in recent memory anyway, who had that opportunity.
Q: Uhm, I'm thinking about what you said about you and your wife sat down and decided, and that that particular decision came easy for you. What about professional and personal demands of you as that new leader? Uhm, I'm thinking about community demands from parents, from teachers, and finally, from central office. Are there--do you think of anything in particular when I say, "demands" of you personally or professionally?
A: Well, one of the reasons that I went to the superintendent in the first place was to talk about being a full-time Guidance Counselor, because I was very interested in full-time employment, simply because my teaching contract ended in June, and, uh, being young, just moving here and so forth, put a great deal of strain on us as far as finances were concerned, so I ended up doing Driver Education, teaching summer school, and running Ridgewood Swim Club--uh, all three during the summer for a couple of years. And, coaching three sports--I coached football, basketball, and track--uh, talking about demands--I felt that I was, I was only home just to eat and sleep and that was about it. I felt things had to get better in that department. So, when I became a principal, I though, you know, now (Assistant Principal), I'll be 12-months employed, so I don't have to do a summer job. But I also forgot about all of the outside kinds of things that come along with it. And they were not as demanding as I was, when I was, doing three jobs in the summer, coaching three sports and so forth. Uh, a little bit different kind of demand--sometimes I could pick and choose on some of those things. But, certainly, the opening of the school--Christiansburg Primary School took a lot of time. The first year was a very difficult one because we were experimenting with an open-space school nobody knew anything about. Uh, I had traveled--like Gary McCoy--whose going to open up Harding Avenue at the same time--he and I traveled around the state of Virginia visiting the open-space schools, and getting a vision for what it was and how it operated. And we had to come back and try to talk our staff into all of this. There were a lot of reservations about an open-space school. And so, during that first year, we did a lot of adjusting. The best advice I got from visiting of the principals, was, "start with what you're comfortable with, and then begin to branch out, know what you're doing first." So, we took basically the same kinds of things that we did--at the old Primary School--and we did that. We had lots of parent-meetings and so forth, to educate the parents and public about open-space school. But, beyond that, also what we were trying to do--open-space presented a problem in that there were no walls, so it broke with tradition. But open space didn't mean that you had necessarily a totally open school, as far as curriculum, as far as what you're trying to do --and so we spent an awful lot of time, lots of parent meetings and so forth--and during the same time we began to make--to fine-tune adjust, and by the second year, uh, we had, we had the ship pretty well on cruise control as to knowing what we were going to be doing, and not changing so many things that first year.
A: But yeah--yeah, that first year was very, very difficult. And thereafter, yeah, the demands, uh, at times were more than what I wanted to deal with. Many of the demands, uh, weren't worth it. Uh, and, uh, you know, I'll throw this in--such as some of the principal meetings, they were simply a waste of my time and everybody else's time when they could've written it out on a piece of paper and given it to me, and I could've still been at the school doing what it was I needed to do instead of sitting there and worrying about what was happening and what I was gonna have to do when I got back, so...
Q: Hmmm, Uh, back to the idea of being the primary leader to open the school--uh, are there personal leadership techniques that you innately had or you learned that were effective? I mean, obviously, you were a very popular--a very well-liked--leader, so there must be many more that were effective, and if there are any that are ineffective, I think, in some ways that helps humanize you. Uhm, bring you down, to a, to a real person level.
A: Well, I, uh, the first school that I opened--the Primary School--I, I didn't think I knew it all, but I thought I was the only one who had any experience in open-space school, and that just simply came by going out and visiting. So, what I took it upon myself to do was to try and convince the teachers that this was okay, and I did a lot of the planning, uhm, the in service with the teachers, basically shooting from the hip and trying to first of all, to convince them that this was okay; we were gonna be all right. Uh, and that we would survive, and that we would do a good job of teaching. Uh, I really had no assistance from anybody else. Gary McCoy and I did a lot of talking back and forth--uh, he was trying to do the same thing at Harding Avenue, and his job, maybe, is a little more difficult in some respects in that he was pulling teachers from three different schools. Uh, the teachers I was working with, I had been there for three years, so they knew me. Uh, and so we were able to communicate without any real big problems. Uhm, I learned an awful lot, and I learned that, that even though I didn't think that I knew everything that there was value in what other people did know, other people could contribute. That played a major role in how we opened up Falling Branch--because of my past experience from that. Uh, not to say that we were fumbling around--we were to a certain degree, but I wanted to establish with the teachers of how we were going to operate the school. Then, we would worry about the open-space second.
Q: And, now, this is at Falling Branch?
A: That was at Christiansburg Primary School--yeah. And, now at Falling Branch, it was a complete reversal. In fact, I had a professor who wanted me to write a book about it, and I told him, "Ah, I don't think it would be all that interesting." Well, just wait until he hears that I've been here to collect all this--because I'm thinking that what you did at C.P.S. and the fact that you had to have taken some risk--I mean, you were responsible for that open-school system working, very likely, I mean, it would mandate how you would want
Q: Falling Branch then--how many years are we talking?
A: Nineteen years difference.
Q: Nineteen years difference. And so, even though that's a long time-span, it seems to be that with all the experience you gained in between, I'm sure that it would govern how you -- so I'd kinda like to go ahead and skip to that part to see if there were things you did differently. I mean, obviously, the open-space thing--and maybe, I'm really glad that earlier you said that bit about it means, "you don't have walls," but it doesn't mean, "you don't have totally open schools." So you've defined that; so maybe characterize those differences.
A: Well, what we saw--we visited a number of schools in Lynchburg in 19- well, I guess, it was the summer of '69 when I talked to the superintendent, so it was '70--no, no, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, it was in 1970--okay, and then the summer--then the year before we opened up Christiansburg Primary School, Gary and I did a lot of traveling. We spent a lot of time in Lynchburg. Lynchburg, at that time, had Link Horn, and a couple of other schools that were open-space schools, but they were also, uhm, doing some different things in their educational program--where students were on self-tracts. Uh, and met as large groups got through assignments and went off, and they had lots of aids and so forth, that helped the kids, and then meet back, and so forth. Quite different from what we were used to--and so I think everyone--many people got the idea that open-space school was an open curriculum to do whatever you want to whenever you want to and go wherever you wanna go. Uhm, I didn't want that, and I knew our teachers did not want that because that was too abrupt of a change. So, we tried to define separate issues of open-space simply meant that there were no walls. That, when we exchanged kids as we were doing in the self-contained classrooms at the old primary school, we could still do that. We did--that may even facilitate it more. We opened up working in teams of teachers--uhm, before that time, we had 8 first-grade teachers, for example, and we had two teams of 4 each. And, within that team, those teachers made certain decisions about within their daily schedule when they were going to teach Reading and Math so that they could exchange some students because we were doing that in the old primary school, so we carried that with us. Uh, and those students would only change within that team and not into the other team. So, we, we took what we were doing into an open space, defined it, uh, as being--not being an open school--we never referred to us as an open school, as Link Horn and some others around the state did--that we were an open-space school, but with a lot of the traditional kinds of things to it. Uh, and it worked- we sold the public on the idea. And yes, over the years, we refined that down to teams of uh, team teaching between 2 teachers within a team of 4 or 6 teachers, so that the exchanging of students, for example, wouldn't be at a certain point, everybody move, but within the team of two teachers, they could team together and cross their students whenever they wanted to -and two others in a certain grade could do it at a different time, and so forth. So, we refined things down, so that when I left we were still basically operating that way. We had the flexibility--what we tried to tell people was that--we had the flexibility to do some things now that we could actually do in a closed classroom, but it facilitated easier the flow of students back and forth.
Q: So, was that the primary concept that you took, then to Falling Branch?
A: When we began talking about Falling Branch Elementary, it, it was a whole different ballgame--from planning to the very end of it--to the very opening of it, rather. Uh, when we talk about design--uhm, we brought teachers in. We had committees made up of teachers from the primary school and the elementary school. We brought in parents from both schools. Uh, architects, of course, and people from Central Office--but when we built the Primary School in 1970--started in '71, I guess, there was no input. It was basically what the superintendent and the school board wanted. So, from the very beginning, there were things that were very different. What came out of this was the teachers from the primary school liked the concept of being "open," but also wanted the opportunity to be "closed." The people from the elementary school were, had been defined by their four walls, and yet, they wanted the opportunity to be "open." So, what we came up with was a plan that in between the classrooms, we would have a portable screen that could be moved back and forth, that would allow accessibility between two classrooms--OR, close it and you don't--you know--you're by yourself. So, again, the word "flexibility" came into that particular planning. Uhm, as far as the design of the building is concerned, you know, the architects worked under a certain kind of thing and yet, the teachers had an awful lot of input as to uh, the fact there needs to be an art room, there needs to be a cafeteria separate from the gym, and so forth. And, so when Falling Branch was built, it was the first school in the county that had a cafeteria and a gym totally separate--and that became the theme for the next several schools that were, that were, built--or at least the next one, Kipps. Uh, and uh, uh, teachers were on committees to decide furniture. When we opened up the Primary School, we just simply took the furniture from the old school down. Here, we were going to buy brand new furniture. Color schemes, carpet, uh, do windows open? Or, do windows not open? Uh, where, where is the library located? How big will it be, and all of that kind of thing--the teachers all had input into. Uh, didn't all come out exactly the way we had maybe at first thought about, or whatever, because of some certain limitations and so forth. There was a budget, of course, and we did have to stay within that, but by the time that Falling Branch was to open--and there were different teams--different committees--not one person served on all of these, except myself and some others--but there were different committees made up, and some of those people knew that they were not going to Falling Branch Elementary, but they became excited in working and planning, whether it was this type of desk--or that type of desk--and in making recommendations. Then we'd take those to the school board--or to the superintendent, and he then would turn to the School Board. Uh, and uh, you know, it was, it was amazing that, that how all of that worked, uh, because it was so much different than what we did at the old Primary School. It was a lot of fun--it was a lot of work, and awful lot of work, uh, to get parents committed to meet and do this kind of thing, and uh, coordinate it all together, set up the time for- and see, fortunately, I was actually--my last year at the Primary School, they brought in an assistant principal, who then, was going to take over when I left. And, uh, it gave me the freedom to go down to the school that was being built--not to supervise where every nail and every board went or anything else, but to be able to go down there and be in the trailer by myself and do planning, and do this kind of coordinating, and setting up meetings, and that type of thing. Or, be there when a question was asked- uh--such as, uh, I took the librarian down one time, and we were looking at one point as the walls were going up, and we decided that it wasn't big enough. And so what was supposed to be a computer room, designed for a computer room, uh, we said, "don't put the walls up there; we'll eliminate that, because we'll have a couple classrooms vacant when we open, we'll use that." So, we expanded the library by several hundred square feet, so we could make some decisions as we went along.
Q: It's hard for me to imagine that there were classrooms that were vacant. How long did it take to...?
A: Well, the first year that we opened up--that was another thing we had committees working on, was attendance boundaries, because this was something totally new.
Q: Uh-huh, right.
A: Uh, the first year we opened up, we had, uh, I'm trying to think how many classrooms we did--we had uh, one, two, I think we had three classrooms that were vacant at the time. And it took--the third year, we were full with all of the classrooms, and we really, uh, we really missed the vacant classrooms, even though they weren't used all the time. There was that opportunity--in fact, we had assignment sheets that, if someone wanted to put two classes together in there for a guest speaker, or not have to worry about desks and so forth, uh, if you wanted to take--if a student teacher wanted to take a small group over, they would sign out for that. Uh, you know, a great deal of flexibility--so then, I began asking for a mobile unit just for that purpose. Uh, but then when we got the mobile unit, we had to put a classroom in it, so it didn't take long.
Q: And how many years, total, were you at Falling Branch?
A: I was there five years.
Q: I'm thinking about the staff that you had to transfer, then, to Falling Branch Elementary, and I'm sure that those were tough decisions, and one of my questions on here is about teacher dismissal, although, that was more like transfer. How do you handle that, when you're dealing with a lot of emotional, primarily women, probably...
A: Are you talking about dismissal or are you talking about transfer?
A: Well, let me...
Q: You might want to separate those...
A: Yeah, let me, let me separate the two things there. Let me talk about how we selected the staff for Falling Branch, which again was totally different from what we did for the old Primary School. Uh, I sat down with the superintendent because he asked me what ideas I had. And I said, "Well, everybody has an open shot at going, but I need a commitment from the teachers of, 'Yes, I will go; No, I don't want to go; I will go, if needed.' I said I need three basic categories in order to see how it fits." And so we did that with the teachers that were located at the Primary School and at the Elementary School. And once we got that, then the principal of the Elementary School and my assistant principal at the Primary School and I- the three of us sat down and I shared this with them. Here are people who do not want to go, for whatever reason; I'm not going to question that. Uhm, the superintendent differed with me on that--he told the people that, that if you're not absolutely sure, then say no. I told the people that if you're not absolutely sure, say that, and then we'll talk. And I sat down and interviewed every teacher who said, "yes, I would like to go" or "I think I would like to go." I also asked them to give me their grade preference that they would want to teach because it may mean some changes for a couple people--some people. And so, I interviewed everyone, and then the superintendent said it would be between the three principals to make some decisions. He would have the right to override if he saw any problems. And so, we sat down and we negotiated. Now, the one thing I did have is I had a core group of five people in positions that I made known will not be compromised.
Q: You mean, that you needed to take.
A: That I needed to take with me. Because they were leaders in some respect, and I needed those people to be able to give some additional responsibilities to during that first year. Uhm, the two principals agreed that that would be okay and it would work with them. And so, we began to negotiate back and forth. I would put on the table, "I would like to take this person." And they, you know in some cases, "no, I can't have, if you're gonna take so-and-so, then I've got to have this one..." And so, we negotiated back and forth and we worked it all out without any real problems. What did happen was that right before we opened up, I had a couple to resign, uhm, because their husbands got jobs elsewhere and were transferred. And we had said all along, "after July 15, if there are any openings, then I will go out and hire somebody else" or everybody else who was left at the two schools who did not get to go, their names would go back in the hat. But, primarily, we would stay away from them, uh, to keep this domino effect from happening. And, so I did hire two brand new people in there. So, it was very interesting, it was very time-consuming.
Q: If you interviewed every one...
A: Yeah, it took a long, a long time to do that. Dismissals--uhm, probably, probably the toughest thing you've got to deal with. Uhm, even tougher than meeting with parents about almost anything--simply because you're talking about legalities. You're talking about documentation, uhm, now, what, what I've had the good fortune is of not having to go the full length of, of ahh, legal battles. The--several people that I have dismissed were all non-tenured. The legal hassles were not as great there--in fact, state law says that they can be dismissed within the first three years without any reason, any cause. However, our system said we had to give cause. We had to give reason, at least to the personnel people, uh, as to why we wanted them dismissed, and so it was a matter of documentation, uhm, and uh, it had to be for good cause; otherwise, it could end up going to court. We were not obligated to tell that individual why. That was the toughest part--because we had to be very, very careful that if we gave reasons why, then we could be held liable for that, and we would have to do doc- or show all of our documentation. So, in the three that I've had to do that with, fortunately, I didn't have to go the entire route. Very, very tough; very, very difficult; walked on eggshells; uhm, One that I wanted to get rid of immediately, they would not allow me to do, and so that made it even that much more difficult from uhm, March, when I told the individual to the end of the school year. Uhm, and things escalated, you know, even, even worse then, but, uh, did not happen. Tenured people--uhm, typically what happens is you move them. Uhm, unless there is an overt act of some sort, uhm...
Q: That would justify...
A: That would justify being fired, uh, you work with them, uh, to the point that you, you feel that you've not been able to get done what needs to be done, and you negotiate with other principals in moving people around some. Sometimes, and in most cases--several cases that I know--that has helped, because it becomes--it becomes a warning, uh, that this is why that this is happening. And I had to do that on a couple of cases, and I have taken in people, uh, and I've sat down with them.
Q: So you know that before you get there--I mean--or have some knowledge about it.
A: Well, generally, in, in, in the first several years of my, of being a principal, it was one of those things where you had an opening, you were interviewing, and all of a sudden someone from the central office calls and said, "I'm going to give you so-and-so." Well, you pretty well knew and you called and talked with the principal. In the latter stages, what took place--we were normally very open with each other, as far as principals were concerned. Uh, and uhm, were able to kinda work through those things, but I think in every case when that person came in, they knew upfront, and I knew upfront, they'd been sat down and talked with a couple of them and said, "You will be on full evaluation for the next three years- my choice, and if there is some of the same kinds of things going on here that went on at thus-and-such school, then it will be added to documentation, and you may be terminated." So, it was kind of a scare tactic--a fear tactic to, and I think generally, it worked.
Q: I was thinking that instead of saying it's like a warning, it also is an opportunity for--if there's bad blood and baggage, it's an opportunity for that employee.
A: Yeah, yeah, I can think of one, in particular, that uhm, was transferred, uhm, it was the year that I was actually at both Christiansburg Primary and Christiansburg Elementary School. Uhm, which was a strange situation, but anyway, we moved a teacher, uhm, simply because of, uhm, not so much being disliked in the community, but the fact of, uh, not following what we wanted to be done and be very open and blatant about certain things. Uh, and I just, you know, I went to the superintendent and I said, "You've gotten me in this position, uh, that I need some leverage, I need, you know, I need to do some things, and here are two people I need to move, uh, I don't want--and, uh, they were very accommodating. And one of those teachers, uh, turned the world upside down.
Q: Became a good teacher, you mean?
A: Yeah--became a fantastic teacher, which I knew she could. But I knew that in the environment she was in, she could not. Yes, it was a warning, but it was--and yes, it was an opportunity, depending upon how, how they were wanting to look at it.
Q: That's interesting that you have that vision of the environment--not you, not the students, not this person's personality, but the environment can affect--
A: And that person was also affecting the--some other people--and I knew that. Uhm, and, and it helped some other people also. I mean, it sent a shockwave through the school, because on the last day of school, after that first year that I was, that I had both of those, it was, you know, I had to go and say, "You will not be back here next year. You have been re assigned to..." with no warning, whatsoever. And, so, there was a shockwave that went through the school on the rest of that day, and during the summer, and it sent a message that wasn't necessarily what I, what we, were trying to do--to send a message to everyone. But we knew that that was going to happen, especially when two of them were, were transferred.
Q: What about grievances? I think this is a good place to look at grievances--what's your take on that process, as a whole, and did you develop any approach to handling teacher dissatisfaction before it got to a formal grievance?
A: Well, I uh, I guess I was always in a--it was kind of a double standard--in that, teachers could grieve but principals couldn't. Uh, teachers has tenures, but principals didn't. And so, I had to get over that the first few years that all this became apparent and became the law, and all this and that and the other. Uh, I had one grievance filed against me, but it never got beyond really the superintendent. There was no grounds for it, whatsoever. It was simply, I had made a teacher mad by simply saying, "No, you can't do this..." And, following up with that, writing a letter, and so she actually grieved that part of it, which...
Q: The letter?
A: The letter--yeah.
Q: The confirmation of your decision?
A: Which, it was no--that was not really grievable. I had several to threaten me, and you know, I came to the point of saying, then, "If you are threatening me with a grievance, then our conversation will end here and now, and you and I will not speak together alone to try to work out these differences until you have filed your grievance, and the lawyers, and so forth, take it over." And, in both cases, it--after the person thought about it, either chickened out, or whatever, came back, and said, "No, I'm not going to file a grievance; let's work it out." So we were able to sit down and talk about it and work it out, work through it. And, you know, both of those cases, it came out fine, without any problems. And so, I, you know, I've never had one to go all the way through to a hearing or anything like that; uh, some others, I know, have, particularly, I think, in secondary more so than the elementary. I think, primarily because the communication between teacher and principal is probably almost daily in the elementary level, versus the bigger high school, where that does not happen.
Q: Well, there's more communication between teachers and administrators, and parents at the elementary level.
Q: And that may have some play in there too. What about a teacher's motivation, whether it's to file a grievance or to continue to work next year, or to not ask for a grade level change. What impact do you think career ladders, merit pay, or any of those incentives have?
A: Well, you know, there's very--well, let me back up. There's nothing new in education. What sometimes seems to be new, if you really trace it back, it has been somewhere else, it's coming in a different package. You know -or it's a different guru riding through on a white horse, you know, or try this. Merit pay has been tried, uhm, in this county, and, uh, merit pay has failed in this county--simply because the vast majority of teachers are not wanting to play cut-throat with their co-workers in order to get the pat on the back.
Q: Why don't you start at, "most teachers are not wanting to play cut-throat." I like that quote.
A: Well, in, in because in, particularly in elementary, there's so much cooperation that needs to go on between teachers--uh, you know, I tell student teachers that in, in elementary education, stealing is not only allowed, it is required. That if you don't steal ideas and so forth from your colleagues, then you're gonna die on the vine and never produce much. So, that became--began to be a real problem. Uh, a problem for principals was recommending who was to get merit pay. Uh, when there really wasn't any steps that you had to go through, formalized, in order to reach that particular level, uh, which left a bad taste in our mouth, uh, which meant that, uh, you did what basically--what the superintendent was doing for merit pay for principals, and that was rotating it around. This year, you get it, next year, you get it, next year, you get it, you know- unless you did something really awful, you know, type of thing. Because, again, there was really no basis for--it was an idea that was picked up by other school systems, from other school systems, and, uh, decided, well, since we're paying you so low here, maybe we'll do this: couple hundred dollars or something another that that might help. And what it actually did was that it hurt far more--and
Q: How many years was it tried--about?
A: Probably 3-4 years--uh, I, you know, I just remember that, you know, the first year, uh, when it was announced who got the--the principals--who got the award, it was kind of, uh, it was kind of shocking to a certain degree. And then, the second year, by that time, we had learned that, you know, it's gonna make the rotation. Uh, so if you don't get it this year, then you're probably gonna get it, you know, the next year. And uh, the year that I--that I got it--they called me, uh, to come and get the check, and, you know, the superintendent handed it to me, made this big speech--this and that and the other--and, uh, I said "thank you," but I, you know, you want to take this money and turn it into something else, it's fine with me--I don't have any problems with that. Because that's basically all it meant--I mean, it was, fruitless--and the teachers, they were, they knew that there were too many teachers to have their turn eventually. And, even as well as they tried to get guidelines and so forth, it was very, very, very difficult.
Q: So, you received merit pay for your principalship?
A: Yeah. Still don't know why, other than it was my turn.
Q: Well, I can--I just remember so well your retirement announcement, reception, that you didn't like attention called to you.
Q: And that's one reason I didn't know for sure if you would agree to do this, uhm, for me. Uhm, but I'm thinking about all the things we've talked about that are tense or that are problems for principals--and I know there must have been days that you had--because when I would see you in action, you just always had this real cool, calm, you know, always moving at the same pace; not any outburst--that I ever, you know.
A: Well, you know, I spent 35 years in public education--27 of them in administration, and my first year of retirement, I go on blood pressure medicine. So, you know, what you didn't see released, there must have been some areas of, uh, of release in some way or another. You know, I joke about that, and I told some of my other principal buddies, "you know, I, I just don't quite understand it. Maybe I did scream and holler and pound on the desk more than I really thought that I did, you know, to release some of that before I got home, or whatever, but, uh. Yeah--there were days that I would have gone--you know, that I would have wanted to simply throw the keys down and say, "forget it," you know, this is not, not worth it. But, what really, what really kept me going, I guess, was not, was not the adults. Uhm, you know, it was the kids, uh, being able to see one read for the first time. Uhm, I got a sweet note from a girl just a couple weeks ago, kinda wrote me a poem, thanking me for different things. One was thanking me for being there on the first day; thanking me for, uhm, being there when she hurt her hand. Uh, thanking me for being there, uh, when I noticed that she was sad one day. Uh, you know, that, that was the whole reason. Uh, you know, dealing with teachers, you know, was dealing on another level. But, what, I guess I developed over the years my philosophy for the teachers was, was to make learning fun. Because if you make it fun for the kids, you'll make it fun for yourself. Burn-out will be less likely to happen, and uh, you will change your techniques as you see things work and not work. Uh, you know, it's like I tell student teachers: "During the time you're doing student teaching, you're going to follow pretty much what the teacher--the cooperating teacher--is telling you. By the same token, you're going to begin to insert some of your own personality. And, people, you know, student teachers ask me, you know, what do I look for in hiring somebody. And I say, "the first thing I judge is your personality--because if you've got a personality that seems to be open, willing to talk, willing to listen, and somewhat of a caring individual, then--and have a sense of, some sense of security, then I can help you become a good teacher. But if you don't have the willingness to open, to be open, to share, to ask for questions, ask, "I'm drowning; help me,"--if you don't have that, then you're not going to make it. You're not going to last long.
Q: Do you have, uh--do you have any perception on salaries and compensation--I know we talked about merit pay, but I meant, just in general, Virginia--how things have changed over--I mean obviously, you've got some ex....
A: Well, you know--yeah, the salaries, salaries have changed. When I, uh, when I started teaching in 1963, my actual first full year was '63-'64--uh, my salary on a 9 1/2 month contract was $2,300. Uh, so yeah, things have come, come a long way because then the following year when I moved here, with my coaching supplement, I made $3,600--so I had a $1,300 increase, which I thought, well, I was going to be on the Easy Street. But then, that summer, I took three jobs. So, my father one time told me, uh, probably not too long before he died--we were talking, he was trying to, we were trying to explore what it was I wanted to do in high school, and thereabouts. And, he told me one time, he said, "If--if you ever become a teacher, you have to understand where the money comes from. And because of where the money comes from, you'll never make what you could possibly make in industry." I didn't really understand what he was talking about at that particular point in time, and then once I began working in it, I fully, fully understood. Yeah, things have come a long way. Teacher's retirement, which was a blessing a few years ago, we now pay for, uh, medical insurance, which, again, is a blessing. And, with all--we pay for life insurance, we pay for, uh, disability insurance and so forth. When we put all that together, I think the starting salary in Montgomery County is $23,000. And of that $23,000, add another 40% of that $23,000 for the entire package. Now, what you see is $23,000--what you, as a beginning teacher, don't realize is all these other things that are added into it. The biggest difference between education and industry is that they'll do the same thing, but their beginning salary will be $28,000 or $29,000. And that is simply because they can market, and their prices can fluctuate, depending upon demand and a whole lot of other things, whereas in Education, you don't have--if you put out a good product, per se, or you sell certain things that you're--you know--your stock goes up. I, uh, I believe that we're, you know, statewide, we're not paying teachers enough. Now, that's a personal bias when you come right down to it. Uhm, I think teachers probably ought to be one of the highest-paid classifications of professionals, but that will never be. I think school systems are trying to make amends for it by adding in a lot of fringe benefits. Uhm, which make it, make it nicer on the other end, but not necessarily to be the
Q: I'm glad you use the term, teachers should be the highest paid professionals. Because I think there's a debate--I know my experience at the university level--but there's a debate about whether teaching is a profession. You know, there's the old quote, "those who can, do; those who can't, teach."
A: Well, I think many, many years ago, there were not the opportunities for women, you know, a lot of other areas except in teaching. And, there were many, many men who never were able to go to college, because they couldn't afford it, so they went into industry; they went into coal-mining or lumber work where I was originally from. So, a teacher back in the early 60's, late 50's - early 60's where I grew up, uhm, had a great deal of, uhm, esteem within the community. Uhm, and uh, this is not to say that they don't have it now, but over the years, with so many things opening up for women now, uh, teaching is by, more by choice than by what is available--what can I do? And so, I think you're getting out of the precept of uhm, those who can't go into teaching. Now it is those who really want to go into teaching, uh, actually are going into teaching because they have, uh, they have the love of working with kids, whether it be elementary or secondary. Uh, and therefore, I think compensation, you know, has come a long way, has moved up. Still, uh, you know, it could be better and should be better.
Q: Well, you've been retired now for just a little over a year?
A: Just one year.
Q: Uhm, that's not a lot of time to reflect over all those years of experience, but--in a short reflection, could you come up with administrative strengths and administrative weaknesses? Are you perceptive enough to--
A: Uh, yeah--you know, I never--I mean, you said something awhile ago: I don't like attention. Uh, and I, I don't take credit, uh, for a lot of things. And you'll notice that probably during this conversation I'm still probably in the habit of saying, "we," uh, because when something or another good happened in school, I always referred to it as "we." "We did this," or "we made this mistake," or "we need to," not "I...." I have no qualms about trying to share the attention with other people. So, I don't know- humility--you know, probably is one of the things that I learned along the way. Also, dealing with other leaders, I discovered that you can get more by using honey than you can by using vinegar--uh, unlike some superintendents that I worked for--who, uh, constantly had you under the threat. I never liked to do that to teachers because I felt that it, it created a barrier. Uh, I liked being around the kids.
Q: I think if you ask any parent from Falling Branch Elementary, or from CPS, that's what they'll say: "His strength is he genuinely liked kids."
A: And, as a result, that meant I was in the classrooms--in and out--an awful lot, which, then, allowed me to assess teachers in different ways--even when I was in there working with a kid in math, or something or another- rather than doing it on a full evaluation. I hated doing full evaluations- that was one of my weaknesses. I would rather sit down and talk with a teacher and say, "hey, I think maybe you could have done this," rather than going through the checklist of saying, you know, checking all these things or whatever. That really always bothered me. Uhm, I did not like to do paper work; I don't know of any principal who does--uh, reports and all those kinds of things. Of course, we've gotten computers and so forth; a lot of that stuff is taken care of by that. And, what I attempted to do, though, was attempted to focus on time on the kids. I had enough guidance counseling skills in me, that--and love for guidance and so forth, that I spent an awful lot of time working with individual kids over problems. I spent an awful lot of time working with parents over individual problems with their kid. Uhm, did many, many home visits, to simply sit down and talk about Johnny or Suzy or whatever--not so much from a discipline standpoint, which I did in many cases, but from my perspective of what I saw might be causing some problem in their educational (or discipline) kinds of things. Uhm, I thought I was well-organized--sometimes probably too organized, uh, to the point that when it didn't come off right or close to, I got a little upset, but... And I, and I tried to think ahead of what could be--a teacher would come and say, "We would like to do this project." They knew me well enough that before I even asked the question, they could give me the possible negatives. Uhm, and I think, you know, another strength that--not just by me, but by the fact of--being with the teachers for so long, we knew one another very well. Uhm, they knew where I stood, I knew where they stood, and so there were a lot of things we didn't even have to talk about. Some superintendents like to rotate principals every 6 years; there are some advantages to that probably. Not having gone through that kind of a system, I'm not sure, but there's also some advantages to being able to stay with a group of people for a long period of time. There may be a point where it becomes overkill; I'm not real sure. Uhm, I probably was not as strong in giving public acclaim to children--uhm, I did most of that (and we did most of that) through, uhm, individual pats on the back, individual certificates.
Q: I remember the first time Caleb got his honor roll letter; I mean, I'm pretty sure that I've got it. It's not framed, but it's definitely...
A: Well, see, some schools like to have assemblies for all of that. And, as much as I love seeing students beam with that, I also have been in situations where I've seen Johnny, back here, who is learning disabled, or who just simply does not have the potential to, to look at that and, and know, that probably Johnny is never going to be there, and so Johnny doesn't really care about being here in the first place. Then it becomes, "let's bring in only those who've made the honor roll." And, then that becomes a little bit too selective. So, a lot of what we did, we did behind the scenes, we did through a letter to the parent, uh, or to the child at home, to let them know, uh, rather than beating the drum and parading around the school--that type of thing.
Q: See, I'm not sure that's a weakness.
A: Well, I don't know if that's a weakness or not--you know, depends upon how you want to, I guess, how you want to look at it; uh, because, again, you know, the whole thing is, my first concern was, for the kid. You know, what is going to be the best thing for this kid, or for this group of kids. And, if it is bringing in other people to do certain things, or if, doing it, you know, on my own, or whether it is going out and quietly trying to get support for clothes to--you know, whatever else, all those kinds of things. You know, I--that's what I spent the vast majority of my time doing. A lot of other stuff, I sluffed off, as far as reports and things like that are concerned. I'd bring them home--uh, I couldn't see taking up my time, necessarily, at school with those things, even evaluations. You know, 90% of them, I brought home and did them. Uh, I just couldn't see doing--you know, wasting my time--at school, uh, when there were others things that needed to be done, as far as kids were concerned. Uh, you know, people tell me that, that when they went to school, they always feared their principal. Uh, and I said, "yeah, been there and done that"- because I lived right beside one of my principals. Even though I got to know him very well, he still would take the paddle to my tail-end at school. Uh, and so, yeah, I had a healthy respect (a healthy fear), but I also saw, I guess in looking back (I didn't realize it, but looking back), there was quite often, something of amiss there too. And, you know, I guess, deep down inside me, I vowed, you know, that I wasn't going to be that way- whether it be good, or bad, I don't know. I just wasn't going to be that way.
Q: I think it's good. I mean, my children, I know, liked the dunking board thing--you know, makes it fun for the kids.
A: Well, yeah--I never dreamed I'd go as far as kissing a pig and a few of those things, but you know, that was all right. Teachers knew how to push my buttons.
Q: Well, so if you were advising a teacher, uhm, someone outside of education, who's considering administration (as a job), or even, in my case, going back to school for those credentials, what advice could you offer?
A: Well, I guess there are some things that an individual has to, to reckon with. There is the--what I would call--the downside, which is dealing with paper work, those kinds of things that, that are necessary. I understand that. There's the fact that, having to deal with discipline problems, that, unless an individual is willing to spend a lot of time--and not just be totally dictatorial about it--in order to get (possibly) to be able to help a kid, rather than just simply discipline the kid. Uhm, then dealing with adults is another whole ballgame. But then dealing with kids on a larger surface- you know, there's 4 basic things that I see--now, you see, I haven't even included the public, because, I guess, that's probably the 5th one, which is another whole ballgame. But, a person has got to know where they fit within those boundaries, and has to know upfront that there can't be equal time given to all of those (that will never happen). So, unless they're able to choose that, "my focus is going to be on kids," then they're not going to be real, real happy--because the kids are the ones who will give you the pleasure. Yeah, they will cause you heartache, they will cause you other problems, but they're the ones who will give you the pleasure. Now, under the kids, is, of course, then, you have to deal with instruction too, so you have to have some idea of--an idea of instruction (what is best, you know, being taught, and so forth). Uhm, and see, that's where I learned teachers from--was from being in the classroom, seeing what the kids were doing, how well it was working, and then what approach the teacher was taking to get to that particular point. That told me more about them than just simply going in and sitting down and observing a teacher for any length of time. Uh, because working with kids was in the classroom, I got to see, I got to hear, what was happening. Uhm, the principalship, you know, as well as education, has changed--uhm, the best example I can give you comes from when my 2nd year of teaching, when I had a group of kids in the gym, and we were going to do some activities, and I'd just gotten them seated--and the principal came to the door and tapped on the door. Again, this is in West Virginia, by the way, in 1963--they had a gym and a cafeteria, which took us until many years later here, but anyway... And he, and he called me outside to speak to me about something, and as I looked through the window, I saw one of my little boys running around, clowning around, tapping people on the head, and so forth, and I opened the door and hollered at him. He sat down; the principal and I went on conversing, and the little boy was up again doing it. And, so when I finished, I stood there for a moment until the boy's back was to me--and he was, he was dancing around, the kids were laughing, and so forth. I opened the door very quietly, and then I came in very quickly, and I took off after him
Q: Uh-oh; uh-oh.
A: And the kids alerted him by their gasps, and so forth, and he turned around and saw me coming, and he took off running to be back where he was supposed to be. And, as he approached that point, I took my hand, as I was coming up beside him, and I whacked him across the tail-end. That propelled him into the wall. Well, fortunately, he had his hands out, and he caught himself on the wall, but his head did go forward--a big, old goose-egg. So, I'm thinking, "my 2nd year of teaching and I've already done it; you know, I'm..." So, lots of thoughts went through my mind. And, uh, I went to the principal, and he called the parent, and Dad came in (Dad was a coal-miner and worked shift work), and, uh, explained everything to him, and he looked at his son, and so forth. He asked the principal if he could borrow his paddle; principal said, "Yes." So, the father took the paddle and gave his son 2 strokes on the tail-end with the paddle. He says, "That was for not listening to what Mr. Callahan told you." He laid the paddle down, he looked at me, and I thought, "Oh boy, here it comes." He said, "If you ever have any more problems, let me know." He said, "As far as the bump on the head, it was a good lesson for him." I don't think nowadays, I would've, as a principal, or as a teacher, you know, that I would be that fortunate, that light. To get away with that, number one, I shouldn't be hitting the kid in the first place, I don't guess, but, it was acceptable, you know, at that time. And, uh, so, there is a different way of dealing with people. I learned, I learned that as I came through--that, uh, sometimes being totally dictatorial, uh, wasn't the best way to get the end result, and therefore, yeah, you had to go through, maybe, of listening to all kinds of sides to the story, to an event, or whatever it is. In dealing, then, with that, even though I still may be wrong, but I felt I had the input from people, and then, made the decision based upon those kinds of things. So, you know, a principal's got to be a good listener. The days of being a dictatorial principal are out. Uhm, they just won't work anymore.
Q: Uhm, despite all the questions that I didn't ask, and I'm so glad you were able to--we were both able to--veer away from any kind of "script," there may be something I've left out. Is there anything that you thought we'd want to know that I haven't asked you? Is there anything I didn't ask that was part of your leadership?
A: Well, one of the things that I learned along the way, too, that they didn't teach me in graduate school, is that for every human that you're dealing with, there are emotions--caused by a thousand and one things. And, I guess, in dealing with teachers who became pregnant, and all--the whole- kids home sick, and all of these kinds of things, which meant an interruption to what was actually taking place, I had to learn. You know, that's okay, you know, that--I understand that. From divorce situations, which affect teachers, there are some cases in which things happen to teachers that don't make them a bad teacher, but they've got to work through a bad time.
A: And, uh, it's not cut and dry. And, so you learn to be a little more understanding, empathetic, uh, dealing with emotional problems. Now, we can do that with kids because that's quote "our job." When there's a separation at home, or a death at home, or this and that, and the other--but when that happens to adults, you know--I guess I'd always thought, "You're an adult; you can handle that." But, I've seen that that doesn't, that doesn't happen. Uhm, in my own particular case, the last six years, when my wife had cancer, uhm, teachers read me very well as to when was a good time, when was not a good time--uhm, and, you know, I guess I became even overly sensitive to other people's needs. But I think, I think a person that, you know, that goes into administration has got to have, has got to have an emotional balance that allows them to take on a whole lot of other peoples' baggage and deal with it, uhm, and not only be counselors to kids and to parents, but be counselors to teachers. Uhm, which is one of the things, that, you know, I didn't like, necessarily, doing, but I also knew that there was a need, you know, to do that, and sometimes I would stick my foot in where it didn't really belong, uhm, to get people to talk about it--and, even suggest they take some time off. You know, those kinds of things. Uhm, so, there was, you know, outside of teaching arithmetic, and, you know, reading, and writing, and all the other stuff that goes along with it, we're all humans. Now, I tell the teachers when I left them, the same thing, you know, that I told them, you know, some years ago: teach 'em stuff--the reading, the writing, teach 'em all that stuff--but above all, love them, because that's where the payoff comes.
Q: I think that's an excellent closing. Thank you.
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