Mr. Driscoll is a retired educator. His last position was an interim Superintendent at the Crestview Local School District in Columbiana County
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Q: OK, Tell us a little bit about your family background, your childhood interests and a little about your own personal educational experience.
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I grew up on a farm. I was the oldest boy in a family of eight. and we didn't have electricity on the farm until 1941 when I was sixteen years old. We went through the depression in poverty. I attended Leetonia High School. I wasn't really interested too much in an education until my junior/senior year when the coach told me I should take foreign language which was required for college then, but I would probably have a scholarship to play football. You can tell about Leetonia High School, you know the size, I think there was fifty in our graduating class that graduated or would have graduated. I would have graduated in '43 I enlisted in the navy when I was seventeen and got my diploma without taking the final exams. I served three years in World War II and I attend Youngstown College on the GI bill and a football scholarship. I graduated in 1950 from Youngstown College. My main interest in education was coaching football. I graduated from Youngstown College there weren't any high school jobs open and I was going to be assistant football at Youngstown, but then I got called back to the Korean War for a year and a half. and then there weren't any coaching jobs open at that time, so I got a teaching job in a eight year school district down in Negley, Ohio County school. I was the principal of the school and I had a high school diploma. The school had outside toilets, I quit smoking in 1952 cause no place to smoke. I was the only teacher on the staff who had a diploma, but I had a high school diploma. All the other teachers were on temporaries, they had taught before. The one teacher who had helped me most of all was a mennonite preacher who had been teaching a long time and he helped me along. I got kids in the class, back then the students in the class didn't have the retarded school or special education class or anything, I had all the kids. I had particularly one girl in my class who was probably an IQ of 50 or below who I thought I could teach her. I worked hard to teach her, but didn't have too much success and it kind of bothered me.
Q: That was your first encounter with Special Ed students?
A: Special Ed, yeah! These uh, I thought I could teach everybody, but sometimes you can't teach them all very much. But that girl today is still my good friend, I see her once in a while. Later on in the county of course they had the Bycroft school and then they had special education class and OWE and those sort of things. I was there four years at Negley and built an elementary school. The first bond issue we put up for was for $59,000 and the people passed it and then a strip mine company moved their big drag line out and we lost half our evaluation and so we go back and asked for more millage and then they passed it again by a big majority and we built the elementary school there. The high school students went to East Palestine and eventually the idea was to build the elementary school down there and then let Palestine absorb the district cause back in '52 there was still a lot of eight year districts in the county. A lot of the high schools hadn't been built then like we have now. Then I went to Fairfield and Waterford district, I went to the Fairfield building in '56 to finish the year out. I went there in May of '56 because the principal they had there was arrested by the court because of having sexual relations with some of the high school boys and when I went there, there was discipline problems in the school. Some of the kids were pushing teachers around in the hall so I had discipline problems right off the bat which I solved by having to paddle a few of the ring leaders, you couldn't do that today. I was there next year as the high school principal and the elementary principal in that district. We had two, the district had consolidated, Waterford and Fairfield, and I was the principal at the Fairfield site which included K-12. Then the next year I became Executive Head or Superintendent as they are now and we put the football teams together, the two schools played, got permission from the state to play eleven man football and contingent with two separate basketball teams. I helped coach a couple of years and we had pretty good successful season because these kids were used to playing six man football and they would lateral a ball clear across the field. I was at Crestview for ten years and while I was there we built a new high school on a site that is now 35 acres and we built the high school. We tried the bond issue the first time for $490,000 it failed by a few votes. Next we were going to try it for $525,000 and it passed and we built the high school with the idea it would take care of the needs for the next thirty years and that was in 1961 it was completed and it is still in use today. We had to put two mobile classroom units there. I was there 10 years and had a lot of experience. I could have stayed there. I should digress a little, back when I was at Negley, it was an eight year district and I was the principal, but I also became the clerk of the board because the clerk left town and they didn't have a clerk and I ended up being the clerk of the board of education, so this help me tremendously later on learning dual finance. I kind of jumped around there on that one.
Q: That's okay.
A: But, so while at Crestview, as Superintendent, we built the new high school, we built the new school and uh we put the kids together and the students got along fine with the consolidation, but the parents, some of the parents didn't talk to one another. Adults, brothers and sisters didn't talk because there was animosity or they didn't want the consolidation some wanted Fairfield to unite with Columbiana and Columbiana didn't want the Waterford people so I had problems with the press from Columbiana, they caused me a lot of problems they would insinuate things and the state board of education came in at that time and Crestview lost an area to Columbiana, through the firestone farms and that created a problem. I was there ten years and one of my professors, Al Williams, from Kent told me while sitting in classes that a Superintendent should only stay five years at one place because after five years you will only make enemy's you've already made all the fiends you are going to make. And he asked me to apply for the Lisbon job. I was happy there but and he encouraged me to apply for the Lisbon job and I did. So I went to Lisbon Exempted Village and was there twelve years. While there we passed a bond issue and remodeled the high school and the middle school and changed those around. Uh, at this time was when the teacher's unions started becoming strong and I had problems. Back then I did all the negotiations myself, I didn't hire outside people. And the uh one of the reasons I finally retired in '78 was because of negotiations, the OEA became strong in the math and the OEA and president of our teachers association were dating one another and it was kind of hard to be the negotiator and I was a no good guy that did all the negotiating, we remodeled the heating system at the high school in my last year in '78 we had a fire there that burnt down the library and we had to remodel that. I made many friends in education and saw a lot of things change in education. After retiring I took a job in a brick yard as a maintenance planning scheduler for 2 and half years and they got slow and closed down. Then I started teaching in a parochial school in Salem, St. Paul's and taught there six years. I taught six grade and I taught religion and which was an experience because the teachers there were not making much money and I was on retirement so it wasn't bad for me. After teaching there for six years and I was on social security I took a job as a county weights and measures and did that for almost four years and then they changed administrations and I got laid off so then uh the Superintendent of Crestview in '92 was offered a job in Alliance as Superintendent and the board was willing to hire someone and they were trying to hire someone, but they refused to move into the district, so I told them I would be willing to finish the year for them and so they hired me to finish the school year in '92. While I was there I was able to get some more money from the state for a building program. They had applied for building assistance, first of all, they were going to get a million and a half from the state for some renovations and then they made another application, they were going to get four million from the state and what they were going to do was to put the middle school next to the high school on the 35 acres we had and then remodel the two elementary schools. Both the elementary schools were built, the Waterford building was built in 1900 and the Fairfield building in 1914. So while I was there I talked with a fellow from the state, Bob Franklin, and he come down and we visited schools and I said "why don't we do it right and put all the three buildings, put all the guns on one site." And he agreed to the plan and so now we plan to build the middle school next to the high school and share facilities and put the elementary school on the other end of the property where we could have went through the steps and put it on the ballot and then a new Superintendent was hired of course in July which I only intended to finish the year. I still work with him and had a committee and we passed the bond issue by almost 70%. The state is going to furnish 9.5 million and the board had to pass a bond issue up to 7% of our tax valuation which amounts to $3,400,000. So we are in the process now of working with the architects and selling the bonds. I have been involved with that. Part of the stipulation with the state department getting the grant for the extra money was that they wanted somebody who had experience in building or someone to follow through and I said I would stay on as Superintendent if they wanted and they changed it and said if I work part-time as the building Program Supervisor and oversee it that they would grant the money and so we got an additional 5 million dollars while I was there for the building program and that basically is where we stand now.
Q: That's where you are today. You've traveled quite a distance. Uh, You talked about an eight year school district. Those districts no longer exist today.
A: No, there is none in the county today. In fact, UNITY was an eight year district, United was an eight year district, Beaver Local was an eight year district, they even had a sky school. See that's why Bud Booker was such a good coach down in Lisbon. He got kids from Beaver, he got kids from Southern, Southern built their high school. Southern did have a high school, but they built a new one after ours. But Negley was just an eight year district and there was Unity they were separate and they finally joined Palestine and then Negley joined Palestine. Beaver Local was a big district and they had a lot of students from Calcutta.
Q: Those were all eight year districts?
A: Yes, they were all eight year districts?
Q: They had there own board of education?
A: Yeah. I had my own board of education. In fact, that board of education was quite a bunch. They helped build and rebuild that building, it's an old wooden building and I went down there and they built another room onto it on their own. They did most of the work themselves.
Q: There's an elementary building that still sits down in Negley.
A: Okay, that's the one I built.
Q: That's the one you built.
A: And somebody just bought that now for a business for I think. See what happened at that time with the increasing enrollment and Palestine's enrollment decreasing they no longer need that down there, so they transport everybody up to Palestine.
Q: I don't think that building's been used since probably '80, '79 or '80 they stopped using it.
A: Something like that.
Q: It's been sitting empty. So that was uh the building you talked about that you had built. That was during '49 I think a bond issue. Maybe '59.
A: You're forgetting about the, I think it was '49 the first time and the next '52 we got help from the state but we built the whole thing with that money.
Q: You mentioned the teacher's in your building didn't have certificates. That was allowed back then.
A: Yeah, you couldn't buy teachers. I had to go down to West Virginia to get teachers in the high school. Back then because of the big increase in enrollment. See, before the war, women were not allowed to teach if they were married. If you taught and then they got married, then they were not allowed to teach any more. When I was in high school at Leetonia, a married woman couldn't teach.
Q: Was why that?
A: That was the rule. That was just one of the rules.
Q: No married woman, before contracts ever were negotiated.
A: So, as a result you had people that taught, in fact my aunt came to talk to me she went to what they called Kent Normal and had two years of training and got her certified. If you get people certified, you know you had to.
Q: What's Kent Normal?
A: It was a little, I think it was in Lisbon, it was a part of Kent and they just, they didn't go to Kent. They had classes in Lisbon some place. They went to these schools about education. In fact back then..
Q: It was a like a teacher's training program.
A: It was a teacher training program. A person who had a high school diploma and a little bit of training could get certified to teach. In fact I was talking to this one guy, and this was a long time ago, his dad never even had a high school diploma, he graduated from eighth grade, took a test, and he started teaching in the first eight grades. You know because most the schools were only eight grades.
Q: Well later on I had a question about certification, but maybe we ought to talk about that right now. A lot has happened with teacher certification as far as what a person has to do to be qualified on paper to be a teacher, do you think that has had a positive impact on the profession or a negative impact or what are your views?
A: Well, yes I think the qualifications need to be, some of those things weren't necessary, we had to hire people who get certified you wouldn't ordinarily hire because you had to fill the staff. I hired a teacher who later on came on to haunt me that I had to get rid of and it wasn't as hard then as it is now to get rid of somebody that's no good. But you had to have warm bodies in the classroom. This was when the enrollment, after the baby boomers were coming on and enrollment was booming.
Q: About your administrator's certificate. You were at Unity first with a teaching certificate and they hired you as an administrator.
A: At Negley I started..
Q: At Negley
A: I only had a high school teaching certificate and high school teaching certificate and I was teaching in an elementary school. I went back to Youngstown College and took courses in elementary and got certified in the elementary education.
A: I got certified while I was there.
Q: Did you have what we call today an Administrative Certificate or was you just hired to do administrative work?
A: No, when I went back to Youngstown to work on the elementary I also took courses in administration. I went to Kent and got my Master's Degree in Administration. I had that when I went to Waterford.
Q: Waterford. So your first administrative position, you were certified as a teacher and then got your administrator's certificate later on.
A: Yeah, when I went there as a principal. I had my principal's certificate, administrator's certificate, I had what they called executive head. Because you belonged to the county system, it was called an Executive Head not Superintendent.
Q: Well did they have administrative certificates at that point or did they come later on?
A: They had Superintendent
Q: Just Superintendent
A: If you got the Executive Head first and then went on to Superintendent.
Q: Did you had to have the certificate to be the Superintendent?
A: Yeah, not well, it was the same requirements, really basically. Now when you work for the county system you only needed the Executive Head because you had a county Superintendent. Then of course I had my Superintendent's certificate and then of course I went to the Exempted Village you had to have the Superintendent's which I had. You got them the same time really.
Q: You mentioned about your own formal education with elementary, junior high and high school, your elementary was it in a large school setting, a small one or a consolidated one.
A: That was really interesting, I grew up in Franklin Square, there was a two room school house in Franklin Square they closed about three years before I started school. So in first grade I was sent to Washingtonville which was part of the Leetonia District. And I was the only boy from Franklin Square that went to first grade at Washingtonville. Back in those days, if you didn't live on those sides of the tracks you'd better not be over there, and so I had a fight most every day up until I was in Washingtonville. And later I played football with them and we became the best of friends. The teacher we had at Washingtonville that year, she only had a little bit of training and we didn't learn very much at all. We didn't even learn how to read. My second year they sent me to the south side building in Leetonia and had, Jerome Arquillic, was a good teacher. There was three girls and myself. Two of the girls got put back in first grade and another girl and myself we stayed, but we were way behind the rest of them. But in the south side building I didn't belong there either, I was not welcomed from Franklin Square in the second grade, so I had to fight. I learned how to fight there too. So, later on these guys became my best friend, but back then it was again that kind of thing and so, back then you wore a tie and knickers to school and I'd go home all messed and I never told my mother what happened, but I had to fight all the time. And it was really true. You can't believe how different communities viewed, if you didn't belong you'd better not be there. So at least I learned how to fight, I didn't learn too much but I learned how to fight. I went to the south side up until 6th grade and then we went to the old high school in Leetonia, the old high school had 7th and 8th grade there.
Q: Was it a 7-12 building?
A: No, the old high school was...yeah 7-12. Right, where Jones lives now. I went through there, but in the seventh grade that's when they built the new high school, Leetonia WPA built that. So we started...
Q: Was that about 1932?
A: We were the first class from seventh grade to go all the way through that school in '39.
Q: The building that exists today then was a 7-12 building?
Q: Oh, okay.
A: It was a seven through twelve and we went there right after Christmas vacation in '39 we finished all the way through I graduated in '43.
A: Yeah, the Orchard Hill School wasn't there at the time.
Q: It was built in '54.
A: After the war, yeah, I don't remember.
Q: Your formal education, did it prepare you for college or was college something you didn't really think about until a later date?
A: I wasn't thinking about it until my coach told me I should take Latin in high school and then it was the only subject I ever worked at. I didn't do too good. I learned a lot in Latin though.
Q: You mentioned you didn't finish high school, you went into the service right away.
A: Well, they gave me the diploma. They got me to come back, it was about a month before school was out. I had missed a lot of other school work and everything with the farm, but I got my diploma, they had my diploma up on a stand on the stage. My family wasn't there, as I said, I was the first kid in my family ever to graduate. My father and mother never graduated and so from there I was already in the service.
Q: You were already in the service when graduation day rolled around.
Q: Did your college experience prepare you for your teaching and administration later on?
A: I think pretty much, of course, I wasn't prepared to be an administrator right off the bat as I had to do. And I was prepared better in high school than I was in elementary which is different, so I took my first year back there elementary stuff to get certified.
Q: You went back to school right away then?
A: Yes, I started right the first year ...An interesting thing down at Negley I didn't mention, I made $3,000 a year as principal and teacher and I taught full-time and did I mention about the clerk leaving?
Q: You said you took on the clerk's responsibilities.
A: The clerk moved out of town so I ended up being the clerk of the board of education too. My salary was $3,000 a year and then I got $300 a year for being clerk. I learned my lesson.
Q: What were some of the key things during your lifetime that caused you to go into different areas of education, what made your decision to go and become a teacher and then take on the responsibilities of an administrator and were there key people or key events?
A: Well, when I was in college for education, my main thing was to be a football coach. That was what I wanted to do, of course it didn't work out that way. And now I'm glad I didn't because I got into administration what I enjoyed.
Q: Your first administrative experience down in Negley, was that by chance or was that something you were ready to do?
A: By chance, by chance. I was talking to the county Superintendent who was my high school principal and he said I don't have any coaching jobs, but they need someone down at Negley right away. This was close to mid-season. And I said well, and I went down and took it, so that is how I got into it. I might add that after I got out of the service the first time I got a job in a blast furnace and worked there and was making good money and when I got called back to the Korean Ware, I went back to the blast furnace and there was six guys making $.10 more an hour than I was and so I talked to my foreman and he said go talk to the Assistant Superintendent and tell him you want the same as they are getting. So he said well I can't give you any more money, but I'll give you the salary, which he didn't, so I quit and I got a job over at FC Russell making windows. They were going on vacation and I worked there a while and while on vacation I worked with maintenance and then when they came back maintenance wanted to keep me and they said I couldn't work in maintenance until they went through their list of people trying out for it. Well, then I eventually got to be on maintenance, but when I went back to work one day the union was on strike, not because of me, but they said my picket duty was a certain day and I told them to go to hell and I quit and went to look for a job teaching.
Q: So that's how you made the decision to get into teaching again.
A: Yeah, it was really funny. This guy was maintenance superintendent and they were going on vacation and I said I can burn the oil with the maintenance guy. he said I could use you real good during the two weeks they shut down. They shut down for vacations. I said I'd work through that he changed the lines and everything and then they were going to keep me on maintenance and the union said no you have to take a test and that took a long time, but that then I finally got it and then when I got it, it wasn't because I got it, I don't know why they were going on strike, but they said your picket duty was a certain time and I said the hell with you guys. That same union over at Youngstown blast furnace they didn't stick behind me either, so I guess I kind of backed into it the other way.
Q: Well, how many years in education did you retire with?
A: I had twenty-six actual, but I had five and a half years service time.
Q: Service time. You talked a lot about the buildings and how you had an effect on changes in the building makeups not only in the East Palestine district, but in Negley and in the Crestview district, and then you went back and worked on a project, when you first got into education, what were the buildings like, were they large buildings, small buildings, small rooms, lighted?
A: Wooden buildings with outside toilets. We had a little cafeteria in there, but we went to the classrooms to eat. The Waterford building was built in 1900 and they did put on an addition in '52. The Fairfield building was built in 1914 and they put an annex on that in '52.
Q: What about the roofs, and the heating, and the lights, and things like that?
A: It had the old style lights in it and we went to those hair pin lights and improved the lighting quite a bit. We had coal powered furnaces. They weren't even stoker fire at that time. Then they went to stoker fired. The buildings at that time weren't in that bad of shape.
Q: We're still using some of those buildings today.
A: Oh yeah, they're still using them today.
Q: The Fairfield building is the junior high.
A: And Waterford is the elementary. Of course, they're not adequate. They don't meet the codes for the handicapped people like the elevator. It would cost as much to make them handicap accessible as the whole thing we are doing for whole new buildings.
Q: You said you did that project in 1961 with the high school and you projected thirty years and here we are thirty years later and you're looking at that project again.
A: Yeah, and it would be adequate and simple to add a few classrooms just to the high school, but that's not what the need is. The district is growing again now, it's one of the fastest growing in the county and so they got two portables at the high school and they got two portables at the middle school and two at the elementary and that's not the answer.
Q: When you say portable, you're talking about portable buildings?
Q: Classrooms, portable classroom buildings. Okay, that's something new I thing, probably new for this decade. They didn't have portable buildings back in the early 1900's. What about supplies and equipment that was used in the classroom?
A: Well, back in the beginning, most of the kids furnished most of their supplies. we didn't provide them with many supplies. As the need for supplies became more and more, fees were starting to be charged. I think we always had adequate supplies. i don't think there was a problem there.
Q: You didn't have computers, you didn't have overheads?
A: Oh, no. My experience going back with computers, I'm a computer illiterate and had to rely on my clerk and secretaries to help me with this. no we didn't have that sort of thing. Everything was done by hand. Even when I went back the second time, we had the subs coordinated, it was all with computers they made the bus routes. when I was there I made the routes out with different colored pens for kindergarten and elementary and high school, did it all myself.
Q: Little pin maps.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your personal philosophy towards education and maybe how it was when you started and how it was when you ended and the development of that philosophy.
A: When I first started with had a lot of educated teachers and we had to hire teachers that weren't. We still have some dedicated teachers, but I sense the teachers since becoming unionized many are there for the money and not rally interested in their kids, not dedicated to the kids. You've got monies attracting teachers salaries for twenty years was too low, now you're getting people aiming for the money and not for the kinds I believe. I mentioned to you the philosophy, one of the problems with those teachers, many teacher, is they never had worked experience, and so they're trying to prepare students for a work-a-day world and they themselves have never been into that, other than teaching. And they don't know what' involved out in the work-a-day and I think one of the requirements for a teacher is they spend some time in the work-a-day world to prepare me.
Q: What's your philosophy as an instructional leader in an administrative position? Did it change from the time yo were a teacher until the time you became a Superintendent in schools?
A: No, I don't think so. You try to help as many kids. And you make your decision what's best for the most number of kids. Your job is to help kids whatever the minor decision's are made. Mostly, on what's going to help the most number of kids.
Q: What kind of events in your life influenced your management style in the schools?
A: I'm not sure any one event. Probably having growing up in poverty and knowing you had to use your money wisely and to the best advantage. I don't know that any one event in my life that would really cause my thinking to be different, but to do the best job you know how for the most number of kids.
Q: Today the administrator, particularly the building principal, is viewed as being the instructional leader. It seems the more I've read about past administrations it seems the building principal was more a building manager and disciplinarian and then later on got into the instructional part of it. Is that a true assessment of the involvement of an administrator?
A: I'm not sure it' more of a manager. I think the high school principal job is the most difficult job in education today with the fixings on corporal punishment I'm not sure there isn't a place for it in our society it should be a limited, only as a last resort, but today's attitudes of parents toward school has changed because of teacher's strikes and people's attitudes toward the teachers. As a result, the teachers don't have the respect they used to have. If a child gets in trouble in school, it's the teacher's fault not the kid's fault and this is what we have today with the parents, their kid can do no wrong in school.
Q: What caused that to change?
A: I think teachers strikes, the attitude that they have. When I was in school, if I was paddled, in school I got one worse when I got home. The teacher could do not wrong. But now no matter, with so many of them, it's the teacher's problem. That's what caused the principals' job to be so much difficult because their kid can do no wrong. It's the teacher's fault or the principal's fault.
Q: When you were a building administrator, how did you evaluate the success of your building?
A: We didn't have the formal evaluations they have today, the check lists and so forth. But you can have a pretty good gut feeling going by and I never looked in a window. If I went in to observe a teacher I went in to observe them. You can see how their kids act and come out you can see many things you look at to see what's happening in their classroom but I never spied on a teacher. If I went in to observe them I went in to observe them. They knew I was there and so forth.
Q: What do you think the teacher expected from a principal when you were building principal?
A: It varied between teacher and teacher. Some wanted all the help and some didn't want to be bothered. It was a wide range. Some didn't need any help.
Q: So their expectations varied?
A: From teacher to teacher. I learned from my tehacers too. I learned a lot from my teachers.
Q: What did you see as your major role?
A: A catalyst to help get things done; provide the facilities and the equipment for them to do it and encourage them.
Q: With all the evaluations we do today and all the check lists, how did you know if a teaching was teaching or doing what they were supposed to be doing or being successful at what they were supposed to be doing?
A: Seeing what the kids did, checking the kids and what results they were getting. We didn't have the testing they have now, but the teacher's evaluations, what I witnessed this last time was an education. Nobody puts down on paper what they really think. They're afraid to put down because of repercussions, so to me, those evaluations don't mean a whole lot. One teacher they wanted to get rid of while I was there and with the evaluations they had her, no way could I recommend to the board they not rehire her. So I'm afraid evaluations are being padded because everybody's being afraid of being sued.
Q: You mentioned about the impact the unionization of teachers had during your career and then you went back into the Superintendency again and began to negotiate, tell me al little more about how you perceive the unions affecting education?
A: The unions are ruining education. They're concerned about getting a salary and they're not concerned about kids. They don't concern about the building or the district. This last time going around we were trying to get the bond issue passed and they didn't care, and the teachers didn't really help us pass the bond issue. They were only concerned about getting more money. And the OEA, particularly int he NEA really aren't concerned about kids. They're only concerned about getting money for the people and they really, if you read about them, they try to control the schools. we don't have the dedicated teachers we used to have. We have some, but not the percent it's not as high as it used to be. We got people in there now for the money and not about helping kids.
Q: And you retired 14 years ago as Superintendent of Leetonia or Lisbon Exempted Village Schools and then went back to Crestview for a period of time and you were involved with some union negotiations at that time. Did you see much of a difference in that 14 years you were gone?
A: It was even worse. This time the union person didn't come into the room, but they went back to her for advise and she didn't really intend to settle. They really don't care. I think the NEA is a communist left wing organization and they don't care about the country. And the teachers are following along like a bunch of sheep and they are not seeing what's happening.
Q: What do you think caused teachers and educators forming unions and the collective bargaining act and so forth? What was the motivation behind all of that?
A: For too long teachers salaries were to low. Way too low. And for too long this happened, and when they found out by striking, back in Ohio back when I taught before, we had the Ferguson Act and public employees could not strike and when that was done away with and they found out they could, and salaries should have increased, but more than that what has happened though is that people have lost respect for the teachers because of strikes and what they've done. And so the teachers are no longer a professional or they're only concerned about what they can get and not really concerned about the kids. Too many of them, this is not only the teachers.
Q: If you were talking to somebody who was considering getting into administration into school business, what would be some advise you would give them at this time?
A: I enjoyed it and I'm glad I did it. In fact, there are no qualms about it. It's a different ball game than when I first started. One of the things going back into where I was at before because at Crestview, the students I had in school then, their students are now in high school and a lot of mine, you could tell who they were from that and they made me feel good going back there and walking down the hall. I have no qualms about it, it's a dignified position and you have a chance to help a lot of people and that's the best I think you can. I've had, over the years, so many people I had in school forgot about an instance where I did something for them or did something, to bend the rule a little bit. They've come back to tell me what I've done and how I've helped them and that's made my life worthwhile because basically, when I retired I was only making $24,000 a year. Now the guy that took my place, in four years, he's making twice as much. The people that I had that said I helped them makes life worthwhile.
Q: Somebody getting into the profession right now would need what type of skills to be successful?
A: The best thing for administration is thick skin. From then on, all the skills you can have and particularly you need the computer part right now which I wasn't able to adequately do it. But, I think they should have background in industry. I feel when I went through the building programs my experience in doing other things in labor and working on the farm gave me an advantage over people who never had those kind of things.
Q: How important is it for Superintendent's to be active in community organizations? What were some of the ones you were involved in?
A: At Fairfield/Waterford, I joined the Lion's Club and was active in that. I did a lot of work with the Booster Club. We bought a french fry trailer and went around to fairs and made money and built the booster. While I was there we built the high school with free money. I got surplus transformers from and traded to Ohio Edison for what we needed for the football field. Through men that worked for Ohio Edison and Ohio Bell were got poles through the utility commission. A fellow I knew and people in the community worked together and put the lights up. All we had to do was buy the lights themselves and the one oil switch to light the whole football field. One of the follows had trucks from a strip mined and I used his truck to haul ashes to build the track around the school. So you have to be willing to work in the community to be apart of the community, join different clubs Kwanis, I belonged to Kwanis when I was in Lisbon. I belonged to Lion's when I was at Fairfield/Waterford. Plus, work with the booster clubs, work with anybody, the PTA, and people are working things and they are trying to raise funds, be a part of it and do your best to be a part of the community. Too many Superintendent's take themselves too serious and thing they're better and above the other people and don't get involved int heres things and it hurts them. Don't be afraid to work with the people.
Q: How about parent involvement. How was the parent involvement?
A: It can be touchy. Most parent involvement is good, but by the same token, parents sometimes want to get involved to the point where they run around the school and, so you have to be careful that it's not the tail wagging the dog. I'd just have to tell them what the problem is. But, I think you need to get them what the problem is. But, I think you need to get them involved, particularly when we went through this last bond issue. The parents were involved with this and that was tremendous support, even to pass it. You have to have the parents involved. Try to involve as many as you can, but as the same token, they shouldn't be in the classroom dictating what's going to be on and so forth. So you have to kind of orchestra that, that it doesn't get out of hand.
Q: That's kind of the movement we have right now where the parents are to become actively involved in the children's education, maybe even sitting side by side in the classroom, and participating in that manner. I don't thing it's ever really happened in education up to this point, where a parent is that involved with the students learning during the day any how. How do you feel about teacher evaluation? Which ties right into the evaluation process and you said there are times when a teacher needs to be dismissed.
A: That's right, for the kids sake.
Q: That's changed a lot just because the laws have changed and teachers are somewhat more protected now than they ever were before.
A: But you still have to do it. If you got a bad teacher you have to get rid of her for the kids sake. And no matter what it takes even though you might lose, you'd better try.
Q: Do you think the laws that protect a teacher have had a positive impact on education?
A: No, they've had a negative impact because what we got now, the teachers pack go to the legislators and they pass laws that they want and it makes it almost impossible to get rid of a poor teacher.
Q: Do you see education today being more political than it was thirty or forty years ago?
A: Yes, much more. It's too much politics in it today. I didn't really have that at the smaller schools. The bigger the school is the more political. There is a certain amount through , a couple of board members wanted special programs for their kids to play in and they were more interested in that than the overall picture. Yes, politics play a big part in education. It's terrible.
Q: When you were at Negley, what was the most political issue you had to deal with?
A: There really wasn't anything. The only thing was that the President of the Board told the other board members to get this meeting over, so you and I can go 'coon hunting because they had a 'coon dog down there. There was no politics down there. At that time there were none.
Q: How about when you were principal in New Waterford?
A: At that time we were going through the consolidation. They had just consolidated. You see, the first year I was there, there were two board members against the consolidation and three for it, so our board meetings became very intense with the people being in there, the ones who wanted it and the ones who didn't want it. The ones who didn't want it were really nasty and I went home at a lot of nights after a board meeting with something in my stomach and upchuck because I was so mad, I could punch somebody. It wasn't politics about that, it was a case about where they didn't agree about the consolidation. However, when I went back this time, most of those people who were against that consolidation were my best friends and they now think it was the best thing that happened. Of course, since then, Columbiana has had problems with a strike and now that's all gone by the board.
Q: It took thirty years for them to come around and see that. In your Superintendency at Lisbon, what was the most political issue you had to deal with there?
A: I don't think it was too bad then. The worst thing was negotiations, I had to do it all myself and the OEA and NEA they were the ones. As far as the politics, no, I had people come on the board who had an ax to grind and soon as they got on the board, two I know particularly came on the board and after they found what the trouble was, they were my best board members. So there really wasn't any problems.
Q: How about the involvement from the State Board of Education? How has it changed over the years?
A: I don't see too much with it. I had a working relationship with Martin Essich, who used to be Superintendent of Liverpool, and he was State Superintendent and we could go to him and get answers, Franklin Walter and I were good friends in fact I hired Franklin for the bond issue a company, he's with Kemper, that this new guy, Superintendent, I haven't decided about him, I'm not too sure about him. The State Department has been good. I got help from Bash. The main thing is to get to know those people down there. I know I helped Don Lowe get help for his building by . I got help at mine by learning Wade Bash from the cafeteria and different ones from Title I and that. And to know those people, I had no problems with that.
Q: How about changing all the programs, the handicapped program, the title programs, the chapter programs.
A: I think basically most of them are good. There are a few of them that are reaching too far, out they're really not what they're cracked up to be. I think the Title I program is doing pretty good helping people to read.
Q: Well, did you have those kind of program when you were at Negley?
Q: When did they start having an impact?
A: We started getting them when I was at Crestview, a few. And then Lisbon I got more and more involved. Back then we didn't have the retarded school and that we had just everybody there. We didn't have OWE, I got the kids jobs, those kids that needed jobs. With the different programs and so forth, I think one of the biggest things in the county that helped was the vocational school. I worked hard to get that going. At that time, we were trying to run everybody through an academic program which was back then, only 7% were earning a living with a college degree. We didn't have all the facilities for vocational education and since we've had that, that's helped I thing tremendously. The kids who couldn't cut it in the regular classroom are doing a great job at the vocational school and you take those kids out of your classroom where they were a problem so now the academic kids can move faster. The vocational school has been a great help. Unless you go to a comprehensive high school and sometimes when you go to a comprehensive high school times you get too many kids under roof and you have greater problems with discipline.
Q: That kind of leads into the next thing I wanted to talk to you about was the size of the schools and what do you think is a proper size to deliver services to children? Smaller, larger?
A: Medium or small I think gives the best service. As soon as you get too many kids under one roof, if you have more than a thousand kids under one roof, you have a problem. You have discipline problems, the kid doesn't get to be a person they become a number, you increase your discipline problems and end up with police in the classrooms and halls. For years when we went through the consolidation at Fairfield they said we should be bigger and that's when, what's his name, the guy that advocated great big school, I can't think of his name. Now they're coming back and swinging the other way. People want to employ students from smaller schools who have learned to have responsibility and are part of it, not just a number and things. This is what you have when you have too big of a school, they don't feel a part of it. They don't have the chance to take part in athletics or anything else.
Q: What about the cost of educating a child today has increased quite a bit.
A: It sure has. Somewhere along the line it has to stop. Although the inequity in Ohio, of course which Bill Phyllus is heading up and I belong to that, Bill is heading up, some kids are less than $3,000 per year and some are more than, I don't know what the limit is. It's up to around more then ten or twelve or $15,000 per year for different ones. And that's not right. The State Board and the financing of the schools should ne more equal. It's really not equal in Ohio.
Q: Was it back when you had the ....
A: No. It was more, I think, I don't think there was as wide as a discrepancy because you weren't trying to do as much. But, the schools I worked in were poor and compared to the other ones we didn't have the facilities.
Q: The eight year school that you had in Negley?
A: No. It was pretty poor with outside toilets.
Q: Salaries and compensation, you touched on it a little bit. It has changed quite a bit since you the time you got into education and today. What kind of an impact on schools?
A: I think for a long time it was unfair. We weren't getting a lot, I know I hired different teachers who were good teachers and they left us for industry particularly in chemistry and stuff like that who were good teachers who left us for industry who would pay twice as much. we lost a lot of good teachers that way. However, the salaries now are getting where they should be and we're getting teachers coming into the education now that really are not interested in the kids but in making the money and that hurts.
Q: Getting back to the political side of it again. The amount of bureaucratic paperwork that is required, you've experienced it from every angle I think.
A: Yes, we used to do it all by hand, but now with this EMIS, I was over at Crestview, that was put on the schools too fast. It wasn't worked out. I think eventually it will be all right. Most of the schools are experiencing the same thing. They didn't have the software or hardware to tell them what to do and they had to feed this stuff in and the programs weren't well defined, what direction to go. I know we spent a lot of extra time with people feeding that information they wanted and we fed it in as they said and it was wrong and we had to do it over again. I think eventually it will be pretty good.
Q: The EMIS. You think that's an attempt to cut down on ta lot of the bureaucratic paperwork that is required. I know as my first experience we had form after form after form we had to keep sending down to Columbus.
A: If they don't expand this thing too much to for information I don't. It's still, when I was down at Negley, it was an eight year district, I didn't have a secretary, I was the clerk an I was everything. Now..
Q: And what year was that?
A: That was in '52.
Q: '52, okay. Did you have forms that had to go to Columbus?
A: Oh, yes. I did them myself and they were the best reports. The only thing I had was a little adding machine, that's all I had.
Q: How much contact did you have with Columbus then?
A: That's when we built the building and I went down there and this one guy who was German, who said if you guys are willing to pass that bond issue we're going to give you help. And I worked with the county Superintendent. He and I traveled down and we got help form them.
Q: But there wasn't the paper trail?
A: Oh, hell no. O'Keefe was the head of the OEA and I belonged to the OEA then. The Superintendent's, we encouraged everybody to belong to the OEA. But, its a different ball game. I think sometimes, I know sometimes that most of the paper work is not necessary. It's not used and it is just wasted and I'm not sure all of this is necessary on the computer they have in there too.
Q: The board relationships over the years...
A: I was very fortunate. Most all the board members I've had over the years were great people. Anybody who is willing to put up with that stuff is usually somebody dedicated. I found that I had several board members who came on with an ax to grind and as soon as they found out what the problems were they became my best board members.
Q: How did you get people interested in being board members? Did they just kind of find their own way?
A: I've asked a few. I've encouraged a few. You don't go out and say that, but you see someone in the community that's willing and you kind of encourage them to run. I've done that. Maybe it's not ethical, but I've done that.
Q: Getting back a little bit to the classroom now, the curriculum part of it. Its today's curriculum more complex than it was back in Negley. How has it changed and had it changed for the better?
A: Back there I taught everything. I taught music, I taught art, not too good. We didn't have a guidance counselor even back then. I think the curriculum is more suited now to meet the needs of more individuals. Yeah, we had to run everybody through he same thing and try to do it yourself. I think the courses, I was amazed with the curriculum they had with this last program. I think they're meeting the needs of the kids pretty good on that.
Q: Standardized testing, did you have that when you first started?
A: Yes, eighth grad standardized test. My kids did quite well back then.
Q: You're kidding.
A: That doesn't bother me.
Q: What area's were they tested in in Negley?
A: You just had this eighth grade test which everybody took.
Q: In what, math, reading.
A: All the basic subjects.
Q: So, standardized testing has always been a part of education.
A: Yeah. The thing that bothers me now on the proficiency test though is they're not taking into account kids ability. Different communities and different kids have different abilities and they're not taking that in to account. Some of these schools that only have students from families that have the ability and there's not compensation I see for this and it makes some schools look bad and some look good. I think they have to have some kind of measure that says a school could have a low score and still doing a hell of a job. Compared to a school that's not doing too much and have a high score. There is a difference in abilities in kids in different communities and different slum areas it creates a problem. I think there needs to be more done with it. These proficiency based programs, they have there place, but I think sometimes there is too much emphasis put on them and it makes somebody look bad an earmarks a kid. I think it maybe makes a teacher work a little harder to try to get kids up to it, but I'm not sure.
Q: What was your work day like when you were a head teacher at Negley?
A: At Negley it was only five days a week and I was the first one there. Usually I had to start the stoker and if it wasn't that I had to drive the bus if the bus driver was off. I was the last one to leave. I was the only male teacher, no there was another male teacher, but I took all the recesses and noon hour. I played baseball with the kids. we had a good baseball and softball team. Let the other teachers work, I did that myself and I enjoyed it. I got to know the kids.
Q: How long a day did you work?
A: It wasn't too long. I did a lot at home. I guess down there it was basically an eight hour day there, plus the other things involved, PTA's and all those sort of thing.
Q: What do you think the key to your success was as an administrator?
A: Hard work and being honest with people. If something wasn't right and there was a problem, I told them the problem. If they made a mistake. It's what made it worthwhile, people saying I helped them.
Q: Going back to your professional training, what part of your professional training education ever prepared you for doing what you ended up doing? Was it more training on the job?
A: I think it was more on the job, I really do. Most of the professor's I had in, particularly in graduate school, they had this theory, most of those guys never taught in a classroom. They really didn't. They tell about the circle, I wasn't adequately prepared, of course when I was found it, I already had the experience, so it wasn't so bad. Most of the college, particularly graduate school, never taught in a public school.They didn't have the experience then. I don't know hot it is now.
Q: That's true today too.
A: They've got theories, but you know it's not practical.
Q: What suggestion would you give the universities then about...
A: Going back to what I said before, I think a person before getting into education ought to have a year working in industry or on the job. Just working in the work-a-day work force. To know what it's all about. I think maybe more student teaching, when I did that I worked hard on that and anything I did, to me that was the most important class I had. Why can't student teaching have more time and go back and that sort of thing.
Q: We have a new mentoring program that is required for new teachers and new administrators. The mentoring process is nothing more than a new person begin matched up with somebody who's been in the work field for a few years. How do you view that program?
A: I haven't had experience with it, I think it's good. I tried to do that with a veteran teacher and say take them under your wing and try to help them. Get hem used to my idiosyncracies.
Q: The new law that requires the mentoring program won't allow you to renew your certificate unless you go through that. So they put some rules.
A: Yeah! If you get the right match up. If you get the wrong match up it could be bad. And I'm frightened sometimes that could happen. I think it is good, but before they get to that they should have more student teaching. Maybe even more than one semester. That's all I had.
Q: I think I've covered just about all the areas I've anted to talk to you about. Is there anything over that time span in you years in education that I might not have touched on that you want to tell the world about?
A: I can't think of any. We covered it all. I think part of it is where you're at. If you're there at the right time and what parts going on. Right now you go on back, I happen to be there at the right time to get that extra five million. Happen to be there when those kids I had in school... made me feel good. I happen to be at time now when I'm going to be a part of the building program. I'll work with the architect, the bondsman. That just happened last year, in July. In July, they said you could come back and teach and stuff and that's why this worked out. Otherwise, I would not have been involved.
Q: You're actually going to finish a project hat you started thirty years ago.
Q: That ought to be kind of gratifying.
A: I went there in '56 and started it. We tried it and it became occupied in '61. Yeah, that thirty-five acres we bought with the great foresight.
Q: See, it all came true for you.
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