Newport News Public School System
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Q: Mrs. Drummond, would you give me a biographical sketch?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Yes, I will. I was born in North Carolina during the twenties. We grew up as sharecroppers. We had quite a lot of experiences moving from one farm to another, and we grew up in the area of Tarboro, North Carolina. I attended elementary schools in the counties. I attended a three county high school, wherein we were bused from three counties to one high school. And, that just about takes care of my early educational experiences.
Q: Thank you. How many years were you in education as a teacher?
A: I spent nine and a half years as a classroom teacher.
Q: As a principal?
A: I spent five years as an assistant principal and seven years as a full-time principal.
Q: Describe your school.
A: Our school was an elementary school, grades K-5, with a population varying from 700 throughout the years to about 560. It was an integrated situation.
Q: Why did you decide to become a principal?
A: Actually, to be very honest with you, Amanda, I did not decide to become a principal. The school administration decided that they'd like me to assume the role of a principal. I was very fond of teaching. I had a very deep commitment to the children. Therefore, I was completely happy serving as a teacher. However, when the superintendent approached me and informed me that he had appointed me as a principal and hoped that I would not disappoint him by saying, "no"; I found that I said, "yes."
Q: That's interesting! What was your school's philosophy?
A: Our school's philosophy basically was based on the educational philosophy, and that is the one of trying to get the best education possible for the children with whom we were working.
Q: How was it developed? Did it take a long time for this development?
A: It did not take an extremely long time. But we found it was necessary to revise it from time to time to fit the children who were in attendance at our school, and changes in the community and what have you. There were times when we did find it necessary to revise our philosophy in order that we could continue to live up to our philosophy of providing the best educational program for the children with whom we were working....taken an opportunity to have them to come in and talk with me. So, we started with getting the children involved. The cafeteria people and the custodial people were always involved. Anybody working in the building got involved with the climate within the building. And, of course, we had our teachers' meetings and parent/teacher meetings and what have you.
Q: What leadership techniques did you use?
A: Well, I think I adopted the philosophy concerning the boat.
Q: The boat?
A: The boat. A boat.
Q: A boat?
A: People in a boat. If a person is in a boat, the person is less likely to cause problems while he's in that boat, to help tilt it. So, that was my philosophy. That people were less likely to cause problems if they were allowed to help row the boat. In other words, the people were involved in whatever went on in the building. Therefore, I thought the involvement, if they had a piece of the pie or help make the pie, that they were a little bit more willing to want that pie to turn out just fine. So, they were less likely to rock the boat if they were in the boat.
Q: What techniques were successful and unsuccessful?
A: We had a lot of very successful techniques, Amanda. And, I think the techniques that I had..that we used rather were successful because we got involvement. Now, there were some unsuccessful techniques that had to be used. Mainly this was carrying out mandates that were handed down to me to pass on to the people in the building. And, sometimes the people in the building felt that the things that we were expecting of them, or requiring of them were too much, unfair and what have you. And, because I was the person closest to the source who was passing out the information, sometimes I got the brunt of what was being passed out. But I soon developed a little technique. If something was handed down to me from the central administration building to be passed to my co workers, many times I would have it duplicated with the note at the top stating, "this is what has been passed down to us. We would appreciate your cooperation." And, at that point, they could see who actually passed it on to me. And, there were times when I would just have to tell them, "now look, this is not my idea. This came down through me. I know it may not sound..you may not be in total agreement with it, but it's something we have to do." So, sometimes I had to stick by my guns a little bit. But most of the time I think trying to be human is what worked.
Q: What role did you play in public community relations?
A: Each time I had an opportunity to go out into the community and serve as a speaker, sometimes judging little contests that the children had, writing contests and things like that. Getting involved with the Girls' Club or the scouts. Every time I had an opportunity to go out and maybe spend the week-end with the scouts or go by and read or share some of my experiences with the Girls' Club or the Boys' Club or anything like that, whenever I was called on to come into the community, I would as much as possible go. I also would visit within the churches of the people in the office. I'd go to church with my secretary sometimes, and I did not try going to church with all my teachers, because it was too varied. But, I did show up in churches with the people in the office. And, of course, they were different denominations, and many times different races.
Q: What do you think teachers expect principals to be?
A: Well, I expect teachers would expect principals, first of all, to be human, to be compassionate, understanding, to be firm as necessary, to be consistent, and to empathize. But, most of all, they expect principals to be good role models.
Q: Do you agree with that?
A: I do.
Q: And, can you give me some examples?
A: Yes. I can give you some examples. I never watched the clock. Because if I watched the clock I would have never completed my work. Whenever a teacher or teachers were given responsibilities, I always found time to be available to assist them if they needed my assistance. And, there were times when they were given responsibilities and sometimes I did not agree with some of their expectations, and I would in turn go to the administration building and let my thoughts be known among the central administration personnel. However, when I went I always went prepared. I never talked off the cuff. So, there were some changes that did come about concerning things that went on in the schools, because we did..I did take the time to listen to what the teachers had to say about it, and to go up there and talk with the superintendent and some of the people who were in charge of instruction, and they listened. They did not always agree, but there were times when we did see some possitive changes in teacher expectations, because we did things like that.
Q: Can you give my an example of an issue that perhaps came up, wherein you were instrumental in helping bringing about some type of change?
A: Yes, Amanda. There was a time when they were expecting children to reach a certain reading level within a year. And, we felt very strongly that not enough attention was given to the children's potentials. Not every child could reach a particular reading level within a year. When you start including whole classes, something like that, that was something that we felt was not quite in line with our school philosophy. That is one good example, and there were some changes made in that respect. We tried to take the children from where they started and work from that point to see if we could get them at another point within a school year. Rather than looking at a whole class and hoping that we would get a whole class to make a certain amount of progress in the area of reading, as one of the examples of..
Q: And, you were successful.
A: We were successful in getting that changed. Of course, we were not the only ones who were concerned about that. I'm sure some other principals had some input in that. But we were pretty much strong advocates of that particular procedure, and I was willing to stick my neck out for it, because I felt that what we were thinking was more in line with the educational philosophy.
A: And, the well being of the children. Which was taking the children where they are, start them from where they are, and see if we can help them develop to their fullest potential and not compare child with child. Because some children are more advanced than others.
Q: How did you evaluate teachers?
A: We had a written evaluation form, which was done through the central administration building. Of course, they did not do all the development of it. Teachers did have some input in that. Principals and supervisors and what have you. So, we did have a written evaluation form that we used. I did not just use that evaluation for# with teachers though. All during the year, I had persona! conferences with teachers. I would go in the room informally to see how things were going in the classroom. I'd write them a note, and if there were instances where I really felt that I needed to talk with the teacher about something that I didn't quite understand or something that I was not quite sure of whether or not it was good for the children, rather than make a judgment, I would ask the teacher just tell me what was going on when I observed such and such a thing. And, it may be that I misinterpreted something at that particular point, and we were able to talk it out like that.
Q: So, you did not sit in your office mostly during the day?
A: No. I actually spent most of my time up and down the halls, in the cafeteria, in the classrooms, and let's not forget that we need to spend some time with those people who are not teachers who are good public relations in your building. Some of your best assets are those custodial people and the people in the cafeteria, because those people can help watch and guide children up and down the halls and in the bathrooms and places like that when you're not able to get there. But I did spend a large percentage of my time in and out the classrooms, and for that reason, I spent long hours in my office before school and after school in order to get my personal administrative tasks done. I just let those kind of things go during the day.
Q: What techniques did you use to make teachers feel important?
A: I always found time to let people know that they were doing a good job. Everybody does an excellent job in something. And, I tried. I did not polish apples to use an expression. But, when people had done something that I felt was outstanding or worthy of notice, I'd take time to write a personal note. And, sometimes in our school newspaper if somebody did something very outstanding, we'd write them up in the school newspaper. But, I always found time for..made time for the personal touch with teachers, and I always made sure that I found time to say something good to everybody who worked in the building.
Q: What is your philosophy of education? I think we've talked about it, but let's mention it again.
A: My philosophy of education is back again to the children. I was real, real concerned with what we had to offer the children. And, I also feel my philosophy of education is to prepare the children for not just today, but for the future, because we have many, many changes just recently. We've had technilogical changes that have come about. When I started teaching nobody thought about computers in the elementary school. So, my philosophy of education is that you update and upgrade your education, still; to get the best out of the people with whom you're working. But, also to prepare them for the now and the future generation in the work world.
Q: What is your philosophy of teaching?
A: My philosophy of teaching, here again, goes back to the place wherein order to be a teacher, you have to be a person who is willing to give a lot, spend a lot of time, and know from the very beginning that you are not going to get a financial pay for everything that you do. I think it's one of the most outstanding jobs where a great amount of dedication has to be given, and it's also a job that you might realize if you want to be a teacher, a good teacher and who will stick with it; that many times it is a " no thank you job." You do not get thanks and pay for all of the good things you do as a teacher.
Q: What is your personal leadership philosophy?
A: I think in order to be a good leader, the first thing you must be is to be informed. If you're going to lead someone, you need to try to stay at least a step ahead of the people with whom you're leading; which means a continuous education for you, after you've gotten that degree. In education there are going to be changes, and in order for you to keep abreast of what,s going on, you, as an administrator, need to continue to take courses. Now, in our building, I found it very heart warming to take the courses that were offered to the teachers through our school system. And, whenever courses were taught I took all the courses that I could possibly take that the teachers were taking. And, in many instances I was in class with my teachers, and they saw how the principal could get in the classroom and act like a "nut", sometimes. When around in the building you really don't have time to show your sense of humor or act silly or say what you would like to say and put yourself on the level with the teachers. We found that going to class together many times was very rewarding for all of us, and they saw some sides of me that they didn't have a chance to see otherwise. So, you need to be well informed. You need to be pretty much a self-confidenced person. You need to have confidence in yourself. You also need to be a person who is not wishy washy, who must be consistent with people. You also need to never permit yourself to get so close to the people with whom you're working; that you will be so friendly with them; that when it comes time to make a basic decision about your work; that you cannot feel comfortable doing that. I think what I'm trying to say is you can be friendly with the people with whom you're working, but there needs to remain a certain amount of social distance. So, when you have to discipline somebody you will not feel that you are disciplining your best friend.
Q: Did that ever occur in your..during your tenure? That you did have a personal friend wherein you felt that maybe the relationship was getting maybe a bit too close?
A: Amanda, I think I was extremely fortunate in that respect. I kept my guard up. I had some principals who gave me that advise; when I started being an assistant principal. They said, "well, working in administration, it can be a lonely world." And, one of my principals gave me a book to read. I do not remember the title of the book. But it did point out that you can be lonely, because once you become an administrator you had to be very careful with whom you talk, what you talk about and what you say, because you do not want to do something to incriminate yourself and you don't want to say something that's going to hurt others. So, I never got to a point where I had somebody whom I felt was a real close friend, that I could not discipline. Now in any building where you work, it's like working with children. You are going to find people with different personalities. Because you become an administrator it does not mean that you are not a human being anymore. There will be some people in the building whom you will feel a little closer to than others. You feel a little more comfortable in being around them. But if those persons whom you feel the most comfortable being around get into something or do something that is not exactly right, you must have the courage to also have a conference with them and try to point to them; what it is you'd like to see them show growth in. I think when you're fair with people you can just about discuss almost anything with them about the job; when you are consistent and fair with people.
Q: What does it take to be an effective principal?
A: It takes the patience of Job, number 1. You'd like me to use that? It takes a lot of commitment of time, as I said. If you as a principal, and this is just about forced upon you whether you want to do it or not now; with the kind of evaluation forms that we have and what have you, you have to spend time in the classrooms. And, in order to be an effective principal, you must be willing to give of your time and your talents in trying to help others to get the job done, and you're going to have to spend an awful lot of extra hours early in the morning or later in the afternoon. And, I never did like to bring work home. So, I'd go early and come home late, and I felt happy, because I felt that I had accomplished what I should have accomplished as a principal by doing that. In other words, I would not compensate the children's learning and supervising the other people in the building for my personal time.
Q: What pressures did you face as a principal?
A: Oh, there are many pressures that you face as a principal and just about..you will find people who have cliques in buildings, and many times the cliques will come to you and try to put pressure on you to get you to see things..their point of view, whether it's right or not. And, sometimes they know that it's going to be acceptable. There were pressures put on me by certain parents. And, sometimes people in the PTA who would like you to assign children to certain classes because they wanted this and they wanted the other. There were certain groups who would come in the building sometimes wanting to put pressure on you. People who wanted to come in the building and sell things and you would tell them that it's against the system's philosophy to do things like that. And, you get lots of pressures from individual parents and business people sometimes to have things done in the school that you are not allowed to have done. Some things you might want to say, "yes" to, but, then it's like opening up a Pandora's Box. If you say yes to one group or one individual, then you'll find that you have to continue to do that for everybody else. So, you really have to be sharp and not let things like that overwhelm you.
Q: How did you handle them?
A: Most of the time I'd take time to talk to them. And, here again, being able to communicate with people, using any objective point of view. There will be people coming to you, and you will not want to talk with them. You would like to eradicate them or whatever you'd like to say. But, that's not the way to get along with the public. Here again, comes in the public image. If you don't listen to people; a good listening ear sometimes helps, and I've had to listen. But, Amanda, I always kept very close to my desk, the school philosophy book, the big red book, and the School Board Policy. I kept the school law book right at my fingertip and any other legal pamphlet or anything I had around that had anything to do with legal aspects of school administration, and I was very well versed on those. And, there were times when people would try to put pressure on me to give children their shots if they were diabetic or to give children certain kinds of medicines and what have you, and I would just tell them I could not do it, and I'd always pull this little document out and read it to them. So by talking and listening to them, many times they would understand, and say, "well I can see your hands are tied; I'll have to go to another source." Listening, I think, is a good a idea.
Q: If you had it to do all over again, what would you do to better prepare yourself for the principalship?
A: Amanda, if I had it to do all over, I don't think I'd do it any differently. Strangely enough, I never aspired to be an administrator. However, when I was called to the administration building and informed that I would eventually be taken out of the classroom, when they looked at the courses that I had taken, I had taken everything that I needed to take to qualify to be a principal in the state of Virginia, other than two courses, and that was Supervision and Administration. So, I actually had taken the courses that I needed to be an administrator, because I felt that those courses were necessary to make me a better teacher. And, I definitely think if you do not understand how to be a good teacher, how to communicate with parents, how to communicate with your peers, how to communicate favorably with the people in the community, then you don't need to be in administration anyway. So, I really cannot say of anything else I would do to better prepare myself. Now there were some things that came about once I became the principal, and that was attending workshops that had to do with how you can be an ineffective administrator. Now, that is what I would advocate. Everybody who plans to get into administration should get involved in courses like that. If they do not get them in college, they need to see that the central administration would offer those courses on an inservice basis, so that the people may be able to pick up some of the techniques that you will need to use when you are serving as an effective administrator. And, one of those would be techniques of conducting conferences and how to confront. And, there will be times when you will need to confront, because you certainly cannot be an effective administrator by going around doing yes, yes and saying, "yes, yes;" all the time. There will have to be times when you do not agree with things that are happening, because not everything that is going to happen is going to be just right, and you will need to be able to confront in a positive way. And, there was a term that we used, "learn how to confront" or have your conferences so that even if you don't agree when the conference is over; that there will be what we call a "no win, a no lose procedure;" where even though the two people involved or the people involved with this discussion may not completely agree, but they can reach some consensus wherein they would be able to get along with the situation without being unhappy with each other.
Q: How did you handle teacher grievances?
A: We had some written procedures that we used to handle grievances. And, of course they were done step wise. But, there were some grievances by teachers, which did not..I did not consider that they always fell in the category of whether you're going to be hired or fired or kept on or put on probation, or anything like that. There instruction as they should have been getting, and I felt it was my responsibility as a principal to do something about it, and I did.
Q: Can we improve education, teachers, and etc.?
A: I'm sure we can improve education. As far as teachers are concerned, I really think we need to get back to the college level in training teachers. I do feel that there are some courses that are so irrelevant to teachers while they're in school, that we need to look at the college curriculum to see if we are really trying to prepare teachers to cope with what they are going to have to face when they go into the classroom. As, I said, "sometimes we may teach irrelevant courses." Now, I know when I was a student, we did not have a school law course, and I feel that any person who is going to go out and teach should be exposed on the undergraduate level to a school law course. That is..it should not be like that. I raised a question once in a graduate class, "why is it that you do not get this course until you are trying to be an administrator or way up in the graduate level work"? And, the answer that I got, and I did not think..I don't know whether it was a joke or not, but, I got the answer; "it's not good for a teacher to be too informed". But, as it is today, with so many people who are just court happy, teachers need to be aware of the legal aspects to school administration, and I think they need to get it on the undergraduate level, because ignorance of the law is no excuse, and we need to prepare our teachers, so that they will know what the law is governing them, as far as the legal aspects of school is. Even if they're not administrators, they need to know many of the legal aspects of school administration. That is an area that I feel that teachers need a lot of assistance in while they're studying.
Q: What are some additional areas in addition to the legal aspect of education that you feel might help improve education, as far as teachers are concerned?
A: In view of the fact that up to this point we do not have full-time counselors in the elementary school. Teachers on the elementary level and the middle level particularly need to be given more courses in the areas of guidance and counseling, in view of the fact that they are the persons who have to serve in that capacity and since they do not have the full-time counselors in the buildings. And, they do..some teachers have a general innate ability to work with children like that. Wherein some teachers do not have it, and those people should be trained.
Q: How did you handle the civil rights issues, the busing issues, the N.C.E.E. Report, and etc?
A: All right. The civil rights issues, I tried as hard as I could. It was..we were faced with it. It was at a time we knew we were going to have the integration of schools. I could see it coming. I knew it was going to happen, and fortunately I was one of those teachers who volunteered to go in a minority school where I was in a minority on the teaching staff to work. I always had a very positive attitude about that, and I think the way you feel about something, the way you act and your modeling can influence people around you. Parents would come to me and they would ask me, "how do you feel about this" and what have you, and I'd answer them. And, they expected answers. I tried to make my answers and replys as non bias as possible, and I tried to model being kind to everyone because everyone is a human being. And, because I did that I think that I received lots and lots of positive behaviors coming back to me than I would have had I been an advocate of one side or the other and tried to in#uence people to go in different directions with my thinking.
Q: Well, what were some of the problems that you encountered as a member of a staff, wherein you were the minority?
A: I had no problems at all, Amanda. When I went into the building, being the only black teacher on the staff full-time, I did not expect to be treated differently. I knew that I was a teacher. I'd been certified by the state. I had taught before. I had a very good record of teachingg, a successful record. So, therefore; I did not feel the least bit inferior, and I did not let the color of my skin stand in my way. I never tried to make any difference. I never expected anybody to make any allowances for me. I did not look for that. And, frankly; I would not have been treated differently. I would not permit people to treat me differently. I wanted to be treated like everybody else in the building, and that was the way I was treated.
Q: How did you relate effectively to the parents as a minority teacher on that staff?
A: Well Amanda, I don't want to brag. But I'll tell you one thing, the principal..I heard the principal remark to a parent in the hall one day, "if I put..I was Mrs. Alexander then; if I put all the children..If I'd listen to all the requests and put all the children in Mrs. Alexander's room, nobody else will have any children in their room." It was a small school and on each grade level we had from two to three classes. But the parents started requesting they wanted the children in my room.
Q: What procedures should be used before a person is selected to become a principal?
A: I think a person needs to self-examine himself or herself before deciding to become a principal. Now, a teacher in any building can pretty well get a general idea of what it is that a principal is responsible for, and they have a little bit of general concept of that.They will also need to know that there needs to be a certain kind of personality flexible enough so that you're going to be able to get along with just about any kind of personality, whether you like that person or not is another thing. And, I think another thing that may be important that principals who are working with teachers; when they see those leadership qualities in teachers that may make them an effective administrator, that the principal needs to share that with that particular teacher. And, on the other hand, if teachers come to principals expressing their desires to go into administration, and the principal feels that say hey, this teacher does not have what I think a person needs to go into administration, I think the principal should be honest enough to share those ideas with that teacher, whether the teacher likes it or not, and try to get the person to see the point of view, once you become an administrator, that these are things that..you..you have to be honest with the person and just discuss with them your pros and cons about going into it.
Q: Do you think that a person should have a certain number of years in the classroom to become effective as a principal?
A: I do feel that each person who becomes a principal should have some teaching experience. I definitely believe that. Now, I do not..I cannot say that there should be some magic number of years that a person should have. But I do feel that a person should have some teaching experience before going into a principalship. Certainly. That, one to one experience of working in there with those children.
Q: How do you feel about administrators coming from another state on the basis of experience and teaching experience in another state, and being immediately placed in a principalship in the new state or the receiving state?
A: I would not be bias about persons coming from one state to another state to serve as a principal. However, I do think that that record should come along and recommendations should come along with that person, stating that that person has exhibited from the state from whence he or she may be coming, that that person has done a good job in working with adults and children, which would qualify them to take on a job. And, I would hope that those people in administration building in other states would be honest with people in the next state and tell the truth about people coming in to get jobs. Because I do feel that we probably could get some very dynamic people from out of state coming in who are qualified to do a good job, and I don't think that because they're from another state that they should be turned down. We may be turning away some good quality if we should do that.
Q: How did you handle assistant principals?
A: Amanda, I don't particularly like the word handle. I think I would much rather say how did you work with your assistant principal or how did the two of you manage a building together, and that is what it is. I would like to insert a little bit of humor here. I can remember telling one of my principals once, now you know when you get in trouble I'm in trouble too. So when you feel that you're getting ready to get in trouble you talk it over with me a little bit, so I want to know how much trouble I'm going to get in too. So actually in a building, the two adminstrators should be able to work in harmony. They should be able to plan in harmony. Now, if you have two people in the building, I don't know what size building, maybe you may even have more than one assistant principal; if you're in a huge building, but, on the elementary level you'd probably have one. Those two people really need to be together on the philosophy of the school, what is it they expect from the..what is it they expect from each one (what they expect from each other) and what they expect from the people in the building. I can remember my first job as an assistant principal and this is what I told the principal. We will operate always from the top of the table. I will never get up a conspiracy in this building going against something that we have decided. So therefore, I never was able to work with somebody who had been to the principal and would come to me to try to get me to do something, which might have been against what the principal was thinking. So, the prin..my assistant principal and I always planned together. Whenever I had problems in the building, I always shared them with my assistant principal. Whenever I had a parent who was unhappy about something, to eliminate that person calling the assistant principal to try to get a different action, I always let that assistant principal know. And, the assistant principal would always do the same thing for me. So, there was no way that a parent could go from one to the other and get something done. They would have to meet a happy medium between what the two of us were thinking. So, any time you have an assistant principal working in the building, the principal needs to work along with that person, and they need to be consistent in what they're doing. Many times I would have a situation in my building, and I would share that situation with my assistant principal. And, I would say, "now, you write out the solution to this." I am going to write out the solution. You give me your solution. I will give you my solution. Nine times out of ten..no, ten times out of ten. One assistant principal that I had, we always came up with the same..with the same answers as to how we would and that was because we worked at it together, and it made work so much easier for the two of us, because we planned the work together. You don't keep your assistant principal in the dark. You share with your assistant principal. Work can be a little easier for you too, when the assistant principal knows how to do most of the things that you have to do. There are some things that an assistant principal cannot sign, but you certainly can get the assistant principal to know many of the other things that are going on in the building.
Q: As a principal, what was your biggest concern?
A: All right. My biggest concern in our building was that we had good public relations going in the building, and that the people working in the building would have respect for each other, and this included the adults and the children in the building. Good public relations going on in the building, concern for each other.
Q: What were some of the problems that you encountered in your building? And, if we..if I could somewhat direct your mind's eye through your building, what were some of the problems that you felt occurred and reoccurred in your building?
A: Amanda, this may seem a little strange to say, but we did not have a whole bunch of problems going on in our building. And, we did not have problems going on in our building, because I stressed the point that if something is bothering you, don't sleep on it but one night. Come back! If it's something that you cannot discuss with another person, come discuss it with me. If it's something that I have done or said, whether it hurts you or not, you come directly to me and tell me that you want to talk with me. So, I think that kind of openess kept down problems in the building, and again, showing respect for people and demanding that the children in the building would respect every adult in that building. It did not make any difference whether you were the teacher, the custodial person, somebody working in the cafeteria. Everybody had some good self-worth. So we expected people to respect others.
Q: What was your biggest headache?
A: Well, I guess if I wanted to say my biggest headache, after I'd worked as hard as I could possibly work, I never felt that the day was long enough for me to get all that I wanted done in one day. And, I never got to the point where I was complacent enough to say, "this is all I'm going to do today, so I'm going to make myself satisfied." There were always things that I wanted to do more of, and it was really not a headache. I guess it was a personal concern on my part. I wanted to squeeze in more and get more..get the best from the better. And, sometimes there just was not time to do it.
Q: Well, how did you manage your time, if you started in the morning, early in the morning, and you finished late at night?
A: Fortunately, I had a very good secretary, and she would tell me, "Miss A, you got to rest for a while now." I pretty much knew. Your body lets you know when you've had enough, and there were times, and I'll have to admit, that I would just close my office door and I'd get a cup of coffee, and for fifteen minutes I'd just sit in there and sit there quietly. Or, either I would ask my secretary to come in, and we'd just chitter chat, many times not even about school. Just relax for a while. So, I knew not to push myself overboard, even though I did long hours. I found time..sometimes I'd go in the cafeteria while they were getting the lunch ready, and I'd go back in there where they were cooking and I'd have a cup of coffee with the cafeteria people. Sometimes I would find the custodial area, and I'd get the custodial people in, and we'd get a cup of coffee. We'd just sit in there and talk, and they would let me know what some of their concerns were. And, sometimes we'd be just talking and I'd find time to compliment them on their good work in helping me to help keep order up and down the halls and what have you when the teachers were not in the hall or when I was not in the hall. So, I would find little hideaways. Sometimes I'd go in the library and take a sat and listen to the librarian read stories to the children or show a film or something. So, I managed to get in a few breaks, other than just supervising all the time. And, sometimes I'd just get out in the hall and act silly. I'd get out in the hall and do a little dance or something. One day somebody asked me, what would you do if the superintendent came and saw you doing that. I said, "I'd do a little more of it and ask him to join me."
Q: And, what were their responses when you said that?
A: They laughed.
Q: I'm sure they did.
A: And, here again, it's..it's..I've not mentioned this before, in order to be a good administrator, you really need a good sense of humor, because when you can laugh through the trying times you can make it.
Q: What do you think of career ladders for teachers? What about merit pay?
A: I'm not sure I'm too familiar with the term career ladders. I probably call it something else. But, I..I do feel..I..I somewhat liked the master teacher concept, wherein teachers who are master teachers, and this does not necessarily mean the number of years that you have taught, some people just have innate qualities that you don't get out of books, and they are creative. And, when they have these talents and that they're willing to share them with others, I do feel that this should be done, which wou take up a little bit more time of the teacher in helping to plan and in working with people. And, I do feel that these people should be compensated for that. How to find those teachers like that, the principal probably would have to work with the teachers and know what the feeling tone is in the building, and I don't feel that any teacher should do that unless a teacher feels that he or she would like to do that and would be willing to serve to help others. I..I cannot say that I am in favor of merit pay, and my main reason for saying that I cannot say yes to merit pay is that I think so many things would come into being when the people who are responsible for picking out the persons to get merit pay, that too many biases can come in. And, I would be afraid that there may be times when teachers who had worked as hard as they could possibly work, who had never reached merit pay, and yet they're helping children to learn and grow. They're doing the best that they can do. And, we know when we certify teachers that not all of those teachers are going to have the same potential. It's like giving a report card. Some people can make straight A's without putting forth a whole lot of effort. Some people have to strive to make straight A's, but there are some people who would never be able to make straight A's, but that does not mean that that person cannot be a good teacher. So, there are too many variables which go along with merit pay. At this point, I could not say yes to merit pay.
Q: What about teachers with seniority that could qualify for master teacherships, but however, if such were to come a..come about, they would not be considered on the basis of perhaps jealousy or..and when I say jealousy, perhaps on part of the administrators?
A: Yes, now here again, I think it has to be one of those variables that I said could possibly come up. There are so many variables that I cannot name all of them. But again, there are so many variables that can come up when it comes to picking people for merit pay or teachers to be master teachers. I feel sometimes it's because a person might like someone because of other kind of associations that you may have made with that person. The pressures may be there to even appoint somebody who's not fully qualified. So therefore; I'm saying there're so many variables that would come in until when you start working with something like merit pay and master teachers, one really knows..know..needs to know in which direction they're going and get rid of the biases and really pick people for what they should be able to do under that particular name or category.
Q: What do you think of the standards of quality?
A: I think it's a good idea we have some standards. If we do not have standards, maybe sometimes we would not have the qualities that we get, and we have some standards of quality. At least people know in which direction they are going, and when there are some..there's something to work toward. So, I think the idea of having standards of quality is..is a good idea.
Q: What were some of the disadvantages of having the standards of quality?
A: ..things for us. They had to look at the whole state. So, some of the things that they established may not be quite exactly what may be needed in certain areas.
Q: What were some of the disadvantages of the standards of quality established by the state school board?
A: We still have resistance from certain schools and parents and what have you. They do not feel that the state should dictate to the particular districts what should be taught and what should not be taught. So, sometimes we do not have the full agreement of people within the district in going along with and agreeing with what the state has set up for people that should be adhered to.
Q: What are the characteristics associated with effective schools?
A: An effective school usually knows in which direction it is going. An effective school, as a rule, has lots and lots of positive parent involvement. An effective school ususally has a discipline type..has discipline type procedures, wherein they are consistent with the principal, the children, the parents, and the teachers. They may not always be in agreement with what is being done, but if we have a discipline procedure which is consistent, people are more than likely to..to go along and help practice it. You also need to make sure that parents are involved in what is going on in the school, so that they will know what is to be expected of them when it comes to working with their children. Amanda, let me make one more point. Children should be involved also. I think I told you earlier how I used to have the children representatives from each class to come into my office. I don't think we should always just dictate to the children. I think they should be shown that they too, even though they're kindergarteners up through grade five in our schools, that they too can help make some of the policies or have a say in the policies and procedures that they have to adhere to, and not just have to do what somebody else tells them to do all the time.
Q: Again, in your own mind's eye, let's go through your school and let's create a curriculum for the effective school. Would it include reading, writing, arithmetic?
A: Amanda, we always think of the basics, the three R's, reading, writing, and arithmetic, or in recent years, they've been stressing science and social studies. But, there are some areas, and I think we have somewhat pushed aside, and I feel very strongly there needs to be some consideration given to these areas that are being pushed, and that is in the areas of music and art or the fine arts. We are surrounded by these things, the music and the fine arts and what have you. You cannot go any place in the malls; music is everywhere. Pictures are up everywhere. And, we do not need to push out these fine art areas, because many of the skills that we expect children to develop in reading can be closely associated with art and music, listening, often interpretations, following directions, doing things together, doing things on an individual basis. So, I do think that we need to realize that the chidren need to know how to read and write. But they also need to be able to enjoy some of the finer things in life that they're going to have to be confronted with once they get out of school.
Q: Where does the teacher fit in in the effective school?
A: The teacher is a very important part of any school. And, so often times I would hear teachers make the comment, and sometimes I would have to agree with them, everybody is thought about but the teacher. Where do I come in? Actually, the teacher is where the action is. And, in all of the planning and doing whatever we plan for a school, we should certainly not rule out teachers having a part in making decisions about things that they are supposed to do.
Q: What do you think of the testing procedures?
A: Amanda, I don't know whether I should say this or not. But, I'm going to be honest with you. I do feel that testing is important. I feel that it is necessary. But within the last few years, the amount of testing that's going on in the schools has gotten to the point that I could almost call it atrocious. I do feel that we're testing children too much. They're tested before they get in kindergarten; they're tested after they get in kindergarten. They're tested all the way up, and it's not just one test, it's continuously testing, testing, testing, testing! And, I think when we do this, many times we do not stop to think how is this testing effecting the children. How is this testing..the outcome of the testing going to effect the parents, so that they will influence the attitudes that they have toward their own children and the school. So, I think we need to look at the amount of testing that we're doing for children, especially in the elementary school. There's testing, testing, testing, testing! Now, I know that some testing is necessary to find out where children are, to find out how they're making progress and what have you. But, I really feel that teachers are spending too much time testing when they could be spending some of that time doing instruction.
Q: Sure. Well, you know, I do realize that most of your..or all of your experience has been on the elementary level..
Q: As a principal. But what about testing for college entrance exam? For example, the test scores that are used for admittance to college..when I say admittance to college, I'm thinking about some students don't score so high on their SATs,..
Q: And, some students score much lower. Do you think that these scores are representative of a student's abilities?
A: Many times they are, Amanda. But, on the other..on the other hand, there are many students who take tests, and they..these variables come in. Some people just do not test well. They get excited; they get nervous; and they get a little bit of everything else. And, when you're in a state of mind like that, you do not do the best on your testing. However, we live in a society where testing is upon us, and I think it's going to be here with us for a long time. So, in view of the fact that we are faced with that, I think what we can do, the counselors in the middle schools and the high schools should have conferences with children and try to prepare them for taking tests. I don't mean teach them the test now. But how to get them to be able to..try to get them to be able to relax, how to concentrate on the task at hand, when they are taking the test, and not to panic, so that they may be able to overcome some of those things that cause some children not to test too well.
Q: What was the toughest decision you had to make as a principal? Why was it difficult?
A: Well, I imagine one of the toughest decisions that you have to make as a principal is when you have to call someone on the carpet, follow through with some form of disciplines, and then have to see it through through the administration building. And, I would call it tough because you are working with human beings; you have feelings, especially if you think it's going to cause someone..if it's going to intefere with a person's job. You don't want to have to cause someone to lose a job. However, as a principal, when someone is not performing, it is your responsibility to report it, and this is a difficult task. And, I say it is difficult because it is a human thing, and when you're doing things that you know are going to hurt people in the pocketbook and hurt them as far as their own feelings about themselves and their families, if there is a family involved, it is a little difficult to have to do things like that.
Q: How did you relate to this after hours? After the school day, that is. Did it effect you at home?
A: Well, I taught myself not to be a chronic worrier. I just made myself believe that you cannot take all these problems home and live with them. So, I tried to, as best as I could, throw things out of my mind and not..I could..I would remember them, but I tried not to worry about them, because in making decisions, I alaways thought through very, very careful and tried to make sure that I was being honest and that I was being fair with a person. And, as an adminstrator when you are honest and when you are fair, you do not have guilt feelings to hassle..hassle with. So, I did not find myself hassling with guilt feelings, because I never made recommendations or anything like that until I felt good about it on the inside that I was doing what was right.
Q: Were you a manager of a building or an instructioner..instructional leader?
A: I was both. I had to manage the building, and I also had to be an instructional leader. Now, instructional leadership came back..I mean came about..it's come about more I would think within the last eight or ten years. Wherein, in our system, principals were required to go into the classroom, observe and do instructional conferences with that teacher. After an observation was done in previous years before this came about, we were not required to have a conference with the teacher or anything. We went in the classroom, walked through, sat and observed. We just walked out. But, now we have in our system particular type of form..procedure that we use in doing instructional conferences. So, we must do them now. There's no way out about it.
Q: What was your key to success as a principal?
A: I imagine I never pretended that I knew everything. I always would try to, if I could not find the solution to a problem, try to get help from the administration building. I always had respect for people, and I always conducted myself in such a manner that people within the building, and this included children as well as all the adults, felt comfortable in coming to me, discussing with me job problems or any other kind of a problem they had. And, they're knowing that when they left my office that they would not hear what we had discussed anymore. So, I think in order to be a good effective administrator, you had to be a good listener, and you also had to be a sponge, like soaking up water. You're not to take the things that people bring to you and let them out. If that should be the case, people lose confidence in you. Then you become a gossiper, and you cannot be a good administrator when you start taking part in gossip.
Q: What was your code of ethics as a principal?
A: My code of ethics was treat others as I would like to be treated. And, this boils down to loving your neighbor, whether your neighbor does something to make you feel happy or whether or not your neighbor does something to make you angry sometimes. My code of ethic was to try to conduct myself in a professional manner, even when I could not fully agree with the individual.
Q: Were there times when you felt that there was a conflict with your code of ethics as a principal? If so, how did you handle these times?
A: Again, I go back to having the patience of Job, bending over backwards sometimes. To be an effective administrator you're going to have to be able to listen to negatives; you're going to have to be strong enough to accept negative feelings toward you; and try not to in turn conduct yourself in a negative way. This is not always a very easy thing to do. And, if I might share something with you, one of my teachers said to me one day, "Ms. A, I would no more let somebody talk to me like that!" And, I said, "oh, I can understand, and that's probably why you're not a principal." Because when you are a good administrator people are going to say ugly things to you; they're going to say negative things to you. On the other hand, there would be lots of nice things said to you, too. I don't want you to think that everything is negative. But, you need to be able to bear these things when they happen and not lose your cool. I used to tell my children, don't make me lose my "coolerator", and they would say, "what is that?" I'd say, "well, if you don't make me lose it, then you won't ever have to find it out." But, I'm trying to say..what I'm trying to say is that you must remain calm, cool and collected most of the time when things are not going right, because once you get yourself together, you don't let your pot steam when somebody else's pot is steaming. You keep your pot cool while somebody else is steaming. And, then when the other pot stops steaming, maybe you can go back and talk to the person who was steaming and reason with them when they're not steaming. But, two steamers together will not work.
Q: How are your feelings about the responsibility of the principal for identifying and developing future school administrators?
A: I have very good feelings about responsibilities of principals there. I can remember also that many times I was challenged about the things that I would take time to do; "why do you do all of that," and what have you? I felt that it was my responsibility as a principal to model, because I knew that there was somebody in that building whom I might have been influencing. It may not have been a teacher in that building at the time. It might have been a student who would aspire to be a principal years later, and that child would remember, now when I was in elementary school, I remember the principal in that building. I remember some of the things that that principal did or some of the things that that principal said. So, I feel that there is a great responsibility on the acting principal to model what should be good examples of what a good principal should be doing. I feel that that is a responsibility. You never know whose eyes are on you..are on you.
Q: How did you really go about doing all of this?
A: Amanda, I guess I was happy doing what I was doing. I was committed to a cause, and I never ever got to the place where I would say sometimes I'm tired. But I never got to the place that I just wanted to say I'm going to quit because I'm don't want to work this hard. If you want to be a successful teacher and a successful administrator, it's going to require hours beyond the..what are considered contract hours that you're supposed to get paid for. You're going to have to be willing to go the extra mile and do some things that are not included within that..from the time the bell rings for the school to open and when the bell rings to go home. You just will not be able to get a good job done trying to do your work within the assigned hours.
Q: What are your feelings about specific school personnel who are paid the same salary as regular teachers, but somehow they bear the brunt of paperwork that even if they started at 5:00 in the morning and went home at 7:00 at night they still would not have most of their work done?
A: Oh, exactly..Amanda, I'm not quite sure..are you talking about the people who are working with the special education program?
A: All right. These people who go into certain areas need to be aware, and I feel that it is the responsibility of the supervisor in that particular area to let these people know in advance before they even accept the job what is involved. And, in these areas where you're going to have a job and you're getting the same amount of..of pay as a regular classroom teacher and you're a specialist in an area where lots and lots of paperwork is to be done, the supervisor should let that teacher or person know that this is involved. And, frankly, Amanda, I think if it's a lot of extras that go way beyond the dedicated teacher that the person should be compensated for that. You know, I think any wise school system would take..should take that into consideration. If they have not, I think those persons who are involved in those areas need to first start discussing that with their immediate supervisors and encourage their supervisors to go to the next level to see if this can be straightened out. A person should not be expected to have so much paperwork that they'd have to go home and stay up half the night to do that paperwork. Now, I know going beyond the clock time there is a reasonable amount of time that I would expect that person to go beyond the clock time. Not so much time that the person would be so dead tired that they would not be able to come back and do an effective job the next day.
Q: Describe your typical work day in terms of how you spent your time. How did you spend the most of your time? Let's travel through your school once more.
A: All right.
Q: Start from the door.
A: All right.
Q: After you got out of your car, you walked into your building.
A: Well, I think I was marked with enthusiasm, Amanda. I enjoyed what I was doing, even though I said I cried when I was told that I was going to be taken out of the classroom. Because I knew that I was losing my little room full of darlings, and that there would be some things that I would not be able to do with the children and the adults that I had a chance to do in my personal classroom. But, once I moved into administration and the superintendent's response, when I told him I'd try it, if he thought I could do it, was, "we feel that we need you because we feel that you can help more than twenty some children. We feel that your services can be used a little broader." So, once I went into administration, I was..I became very enthusiastic about it. In going to school in the mornings, I turned the radio on, and most of the time I'd be patting feet on the way to school. Once I got in the building, I was usually there early; the custodian would get there most of the time ahead of me. Sometimes we'd be going in at the same time. But those early hours, actually, were relaxation time for me to get my work done. I could go in the office. It was quiet in there. I'd get an hour head start. Now mind you, I had everything that I needed to work with on my desk. I did not need to bring all that home, because I would not have had the space and the facilities and the confidence I had there in my office. So, I was not unhappy doing that. By the time the buses started coming in, I would have gotten my day so lined up until I was ready just about every morning to go out and meet the buses when they came in, or I would be on hand in the hall until it was time for the morning exercise to start. I relieved my teachers of the responsibility of meeting the buses, because I felt that they should be in the classroom to greet their children when they came in the classroom. Also, with the amount of groupings that the teachers had, I felt that they needed to be in the classroom to get their board work ready, and to at least be ready, standing in the door to greet the children when they came in. So, that got us up until we got ready for the morning exercise. Once the morning exercise was over and the day was ready for the children to start working, I checked in the office with the secretaries, the attendance lady, checked with the nurse to see if everything was going okay in the office. I usually knew that I had a certain amount of things that I needed to get to do within a day, which happened to have been in the line of management. That's why I say that I was also a manager. There were certain things that I knew that I had to get done, because there were always some expectations for the principals to get things into the administration building. My secretaries were well versed and very well trained in letting me know that this has to be done at a certain time. We had a little system where attention was called to something that had to be done right away. Things that could wait a little while we separated. So, they screened my mail when it came in, and they made sure that I would not get out in the halls or go some place else and not make sure that the management things that I needed to get done within a day were not done on time. We had deadlines for getting reports back to the administration building. The secretaries knew when those came in. They made notes of it. They made notes for me. If something was a hot issue, I'd say put it on the back of my chair. I always would go through my office, walk through there within a certain amount of time. If I visited two or three classrooms, I would take time to walk through my office. So, if I had something that was urgent, I could take care of it then. If I had an observation..a scheduled observation and something else took precedent over it in the office, I would do what was in the office. So, we established priorities, and you have to do that. If my priority was to get into a classroom to observe, I did that. If something came into the office, which had to do with discipline or somebody ill or something like that, that took priority over things that could wait. So establishing your priorities and doing is what helped..helped me through the day. Again, I said I was busy, but I'd always find some time for a little hideaway. I never went a hundred miles an hour the whole day. I'd find time to go get a cup of coffee to go hideaway as I said with the custodial people and talk with them, and spend some time with the cafeteria people, because those people feel that they need to be a part, that they're wanted too.
Q: How did you spend most of your time?
A: I really had to divide my time. But, when it came time for a priority, the children got most of my time in the classroom and with the teachers.
Q: How do you account for your success as an administrator?
A: That's a kind of tough question. In the beginning, we had things organized in our building, such that everybody in the building pretty much knew..everybody knew what the procedures were about running the building, and this had to do with discipline. I never ever used sneak..sneaky techniques to try to catch somebody into doing something that was not right. I always maintained trust in people. If people did not live up to the expectations, I did not have to go around hunting. Somebody would tell. If teachers came in late, the children would tell. Or somebody else would tell because the grownup in the building are nothing but grownup children, and they would come to an administrator like a child would go to a parent; if they feel that somebody..they mistreated or if they feel that that particular person as an individual was being mistreated. So, I think trust and what have you and having faith is what helps one get through.
Q: Well, what did you say to the adults when they came in to tell you that perhaps someone was late, perhaps a morning or two?
A: Oh, I'd just smile. I said, "oh, thanks very much!"
Q: And, did they leave right away? What did they do?
A: They would leave. So, I said, "well, I'll find out for myself." But, I stayed up and down the halls enough in the mornings. See, I would be out to meet the buses, and I was always there early. And, I just made it..most of the time I would go to the cafeteria early in the morning. Well, the cafeteria manager knew how to get..get you there. She made coffee and toast for everybody who worked there. And, we..you paid for your coffee and get your toast free. So, those of us who did not like to miss breakfast would always go in the cafeteria. So, I was seen out in the hall enough to actually see somebody when they came in late. Most of the time when someone came in to tell me that somebody had been coming in late I knew it anyway. And, I was just waiting for a good opportune time to call the person in and talk with them. Because, if we let one person get by doing something that's not acceptable, that sets a precedent so that others can do it too, if it's not called to the person's attention. But, we had good feelings in our building, and even with people who needed to be called in by me. They would say, "oh, yes, Ms. A, I know; I did it." And, I can remember when something really happened, and it was necessary to suspend a teacher for two days. When I called her in, she says, "it did happened. I should have known better! I should have known better!" So, I said, "well you know, I try my best to discipline with love." She said, "I understand that and I love you for wanting to do that." So, the few times that I really had to discipline people I do not feel..I can honestly say I do not feel that there were bad feelings on the part of the people who were involved because they knew that they had done something that was not acceptable. And, I just had to have enough courage to share it with them and tell them that, "you have broken the law, so you have to pay the penalty."
Q: How does humanizing come into the picture? When you consider yourself as a past adminstrator, I'm sure that there were many human elements..
Q: That were utilized.
A: Yes, I was very, very extremely concerned about human feelings. I think when you kill off a person's feelings you have a lab person walking around dead on the inside. So, an effective administrator needs to think things over, write things out, sound them out. Here again, where you have an..an assistant principal, where the two of you can work together. When you have..when you have to confront somebody, do it in a human way. If it's done in a human way, nine times out ten that person will accept what you're trying to discuss or say or share with them, even though the person may know that what has been done was not acceptable at the time the action took place. You need to realize that you are working with adults who are also intelligent people. And, I'm not just talking about teachers. When you're working with people, people..everybody has a certain amount of intelligence, and this needs to be respected. So, you do not kill people's feelings in trying to work out problems with them. You work out positive ways of finding solutions to problems, rather than trying to work out things in a negative manner.
Q: How did teaming come into play with your being as an administrator?
A: Do you mean team teaching?
Q: Not team teaching. But your school, you as the leader, your teachers as teachers.
Q: All right. All of you coming together as a team. All of you are working for the..
A: All right.
Q: Same Purpose or the same goal.
A: Amanda, I'm glad you asked me that. I can remember one year we had 700 children in our building, and we had an assistant principal and the..who was working in two buildings. An illness came to the principal in the other building, and I lost my assistant principal for about three months. I did not have the time that I need to have to spend in the halls, in the classrooms and what have you. And, at one point, we..discipline started to become noticeable in our school; the lack of discipline in some instances. Some of the teachers got together as a group. They told me they wanted to talk with me. It was a grade level. They came in. They talked with me, told me their concerns, which I had already noticed, but I was so happy to hear it from the staff. That I was working with a staff who realized that we had a problem and that all of us together needed to do something about it. So, I wrote a letter to all the staff members, all of our staff members, including everybody. And, this means the custodial people, the cafeteria people, the librarian, the resource people in the building. We wrote a letter to everybody. I said..I suggested that they get together on grade levels or in resource areas. The resource more than likely would pick a grade level to meet and discuss. The reading teacher would meet..meet with a grade level. This is giving everybody a chance to have some input, to brainstorm what the problems are, to brainstorm how we could come up with some possible solutions. And, then we had a faculty meeting wherein everybody came. The teachers were not required to spend but four hours per month in faculty meetings. We only had faculty meetings when they were necessary. This particular afternoon, we had people who stayed in this meeting until 5:30, still brainstorming about how we can solve the problems in our building. I was so overwhelmingly pleased, and we listened to everything that everybody had to say. The next morning I arranged to have coffee and donuts and juice for everybody, because they had exhibited to me that they were concerned about what was going on in that school. That they cared enough about the school, and that they had enough confidence in me to come to me and discuss a problem that was getting ready to get bigger and bigger and bigger. And, as a result we were able to work that problem out within two months. That school was like a different school. We communicated with our parents through the school newspaper and everything. And, because we had the team working as a team that was an example of how we worked together as a team, and it worked.
Q: What were some of the issues that were raised at this particular time?
A: Concerning behavior?
Q: Concerning behavior. Yes.
A: Some of the people felt that too much pressure was put on teachers. Some of the issues that came up in this meeting when we had our whole staff brainstorming about how to solve the problems. The biggest issue coming from the teachers was that of how much support am I going to get from the adminstration in this building when I attempt to discipline someone, especially when a parent starts confronting me about my discipline procedures. The teachers were a little bit hesitant about doing certain things to discipline children, because they were afraid of whether or not the school administration would stand with them in what they were doing. So, in order to help solve that problem, we came up with a form. And, sometimes the parent needed to sign the form; sometimes the principal would sign it. But the teacher would always sign the form, do a write-up when a child was sent to the office for a discipline concern. The principal would look at that and rather than just take the child back to the classroom, the principal needed to find some way of helping to resolve that problem without sending that same type behavior back into the classroom, so that it wouldn't happen again right then and now. On this form, we kept a..we kept copies of it. The teacher would always have a copy. The principal had a copy. There was a copy which could be sent home to the parents. We did not always find it necessary to send the copy home to the parents, because many times the concern was one that could be resolved between the teacher, the child and the principal in the principal's office. However, the children knew..now this procedure was one that we wrote about in our newsletter, and the parents knew when they got a form the exact procedure that they were to use. And, there were times when I had to outsmart the children, and there were times when they thought they were outsmarting me. I even got the bus drivers involved. If a child took a note home stating that you're not suspended from school, but you may not go back to class until you bring a parent, the bus driver would be informed that this child is not to ride your bus tomorrow morning. If this child tries to get on the bus, you are not to let the child on, but let me know when you get to school that the child tried to get on the bus and did not have a parent out there with him to tell me anything. So we had a consistent procedure that we used to discipline children which got the child, the parent, the teacher, and the principal involved, and we were not wishy, washy in the way this procedure worked. If a child had to be sent to the office for..it depended upon what the problem was, how severe it was, whether or not we got the parent involved in it. But once we got the parent involved, if the child did not show up, we would send an attendance officer out to the house to get the child or to see..to see about gettig the parents to come to school. So, the child could not just lay out of school when he took a discipline note home, because we always followed up to make sure that the parent got the note. And, this procedure worked. What I'm trying to say is that we had worked out a consistent procedure, which was described to the parent and the school, and we worked with that procedure in a consistent manner. And, we had a complete turnover in the kind of behaviors that we had at the school in a very short period of time. That was the basic concern, Amanda. The basic concern that came up in that meeting. The teachers wanted to be assured, and the other people in the building, that if there was an occasion to discipline that we would be consistent in the way we were handling the discipline problem all the way.
Q: What caused you to choose retirement when you did?
A: Well, I..my husband retired, and I..there were many things that I wanted to do, which when working full-time I did not have time to do them. I was concerned in dancing, and I was concerned in taking piano lessons. We wanted to travel. When it got to the point where he was not working and I was working, we did not have the time that we needed to have to do some of the enjoyable things together that we wanted to do. So, therefore; the two of us decided after he had been retired for a year that it might be nice that I should retire too.
Q: Okay. And, now we come to the last questions. What have I not asked you that I should have?
A: Amanda, all the way through I noticed that you never said a word about pay.
Q: Really. What about pay? Tell me about pay.
A: I'm giggling about that. You certainly don't expect to get paid for everything that you do as an effective administrator. Not any more than an effective teacher would expect to get paid for every hour or minute that is put in in work. We know when we go into education that is not an area that we would like to get rich, and I don't know of any people in education who have become millionnaires from their educational work. But, I think you receive your rewards from doing things to help others, and that in turn helps to compensate for some of the pay that you don't get. My pay was not my biggest concern when I was working. I wanted an adequate pay, and everybody does. But the dollar sign was not the biggest emblem that I looked toward when I was serving as an administrator.
Q: How do you think your pay has helped you in your retirement? Your adequate pay.
A: All right. My retirement pay has a lot to do with, I think, how people plan while they're working. Now, in my case, I knew that I would never work the magic number of thirty-five and forty years as such, because I stayed out of high school eighteen years before ever entering college. When I started working, I somewhat worked on my own retirement plan. I was not solely and wholy dependent upon what I would get from the city and the state when I stopped working. So that in turn has assisted me with being able to live comfortably, and I do not care to be a wealthy person. I can find things to do to be happy. We can find things to do to make us happy, which do not call for lots and lots of money. So I..that's an individual type thing, I think, on how you can manage after retirement. But, as it is now, I am very happy with the kind of life that I can live on retirement. But, I did find it necessary to help plan for this while I was working.
Q: Thank you for letting me enter your beautiful home. You appear to be very comfortable and you are very pretty still in your retirement, so-called leisure hours.
A: Thank you.
Q: You have allowed me to interview you for almost an hour and a half or a little more, and this has really been a pleasure. And, I'm sure that we will use this interview to the maximum of our potentials.
A: Well, I am very happy that I had an opportunity to accomodate you, Amanda, and I wish you success with your studies.
Q: Thank you.
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