The following interview was conducted April 19, 1987. Robert J. Frear was Principal of John Adams Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia from 1972 through 1978.
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Q: Mr. Frear, how did your educational career begin?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: How did it begin? My educational career began out of high school. I just felt that the people in high school had done a job that stopped me from going in the wrong direction, and I decided that that is what I wanted to do. I also wanted to coach, and coaching is close to show business, and show business in those days was not a profitable thing to get into, so I used my show business background as a youngster to get my release that way by also performing in the classroom.
Q: What sport did you coach?
A: I coached football. I coached basketball, and I've coached golf. Those three basically.
Q: Your classroom. What did you teach?
A: Well, the first seven or eight years, it was physical education, driver training, health education, which is a horrible thing to teach, and when I came to Alexandria, in order to coach and be employed, the best route was social studies, and I had that on my certificate, so I started teaching social studies and coaching. History and government.
Q: Total years in the classroom as a teacher?
A: Eight.....five.....about thirteen.
Q: Assistant principal. How many years have you been an assistant principal?
A: Here at this school, this is my ninth year
Q: That's T.C. Williams
A: right, at George Washington, we started out with a directorship, athletic directorship, and then, to create a salary, and, in lieu of salary, but for prestige, the position was created in '69 or '70 that was assistant principal of student activities so it was a little bit in larger context than just director of athletics, so that I was on the same "peer level" if you want with assistant principals.
Q: Where were you a principal, and during what time period?
A: The difficult thing is to get the years just right. John Adams Middle School, and the years were, as I look at this thing, '72 through '78, a six year period.
Q: I ' m pretty much interested in your years as a principal. What does it take to be an effective principal.....head principal?
A: To be effective, number one, is to be visibly seen and approachable, to students, to your faculty, and to the community. That's basically number one. They've got to know you. They've got to feel that they know you.
Q: Visibility and approachability.
A: Visibility and approachability, and if you have that you'd be surprised how then you can initiate what you want in the way of new approaches, or different approaches, or different organization, because you've got good, firm background, and you can go to all three of those groups at the same time. The real difficulty in trying to initiate change in schools is that folks don't take enough time to make sure that they've got all three of those components in sync, lined-up, because invariably you get one, or you get two, you forget the third.....I've even had student revolution and student referendum because I forgot that I also had to condition students to a change that I was going to do, and I did it so abruptly, that it took a little bit of P.R. work on my part to bring the students around. Luckily, they were junior high school age.
Q: As you reflect back on your years as a principal, as a decision-maker, would you classify yourself as an "authoritative" person, an "enlightened despot", a "democratic" person?
A: (Laughter) I would have to say, yes, the toughest thing to do was to learn not to come across that way, and to allow for expression of disagreement to be registered and for folks to feel comfortable or that you have given them the respect of receiving that difference of opinion, and that you were giving it weight as you went in to the process of making the decision. It's very difficult to.....when your mind is made-up, you know, very seldom was I right, but I was never hesitant in about the way of the approach, and that can get you into a lot of trouble, because then you really have to bail the water out of the boat in order to keep it tight, and keep the caulking from springing leaks.
Q: In 1987 America, it's rather peaceful, as far as the nation's high schools go (the political climate), but you were principal during the early and mid-'70's, rather turbulent times. How did this affect your decision-making philosophy?
A: I would have to say that the climate was probably the uppermost consideration and influence that we all had to face in terms of making decisions. In Alexandria, I've had twenty-five years in Alexandria, and the beautiful thing about the Alexandria situation, is that I can say that I've had the fun.....whatever you want to call it, but as you look back, bad times are always fun, if you go through them, and you look back later. That's the basis of war stories and what-have-you. They're not fun then, but they are fun if you look back, and you have successfully negotiated them. In Alexandria, a small town, we have had every major problem that educators have had to deal with in twenty-five years, whether it be integration, changing the way schools are, citizen input increasing and having to have citizen committees for everything now; a change in the role of school boards and superintendents and school officers.....that role has changed so tremendously; where other communities would have been torn apart, we have been able to deal with the situation. It's never gotten so big it's overwhelmed us, but we've gone through all of it. If you want riots, we've gone through riots. If you want student demonstrations, day after day after day, with the community coming in when it was the black-white business, we had that. If you want the experience of talking to a gym-full of demonstrators, and have the wrestling room burn down behind you, we've had that. If you want.....while that's going on, somebody setting fire to the drapes in the auditorium, and having both the school and the gymnasium trying to empty out into the same place with the firemen in between. If you want white lines up on one side of the school, outside on the streets, and police, and black lines on the other, we've had that. We've had teacher demonstrations, not quite to the work-stoppage business but with the wearing of the badges, and the wearing of the colors, things like that. We've managed to go through sort of all of that. And the funny thing was, the teaching group and the administrative group in about twenty years didn't change. The groups stayed the same. It is only now that there's a new problem coming in, in that I, and I'm just at the vanguard of it, but now we're going to have a sudden changing of the age group, and the experience within the community, because my group is going to suddenly disappear from here within the next five years, in large numbers. It'll be a new group coming in, and here again, time being what it is, the teaching group is not native to the city, and doesn't spend their time and nights and afternoons walking the streets. This is going to be something that your group is going to have to deal with. You're strangers coming in and leaving and yet you still want that close relationship with the town, the families, and what-have-you, you've got a problem that I'm not going to have to deal with.
Q: Do you feel your preparation, your training, for an administrative position was adequate?
A: I was trained in administration on the job. I was appointed by the superintendent of schools one afternoon, two days before the start of school, that he expected that I go to the junior high school and be the principal, and he knew that I had done some work for my master's degree and for my certification for administration, and he would give to the end of the year to get it done. So, I did my college training while I was also learning on the job at the junior high school. The great thing that I had going for me, was that my instructor, in the college program, was also the man who had instituted the philosophy and the school, and had built the school, and had run it in Alexandria, so that I could learn from him first-hand what this philosophy was, what its organization was, what we were trying to get in the way of curriculum, so that it was not completely strange to me.....as a matter-of-fact, it became my special project toward my administrative degree, so I had a very excellent opportunity that doesn't come to many. Otherwise, I don't know. I would have been really paddling real fast trying to find out who, what, where, and when while it was happening.
Q: During the time period you were principal, the early to mid-1970's, could you describe the organization of the Alexandria City Public Schools, the secondary schools, the boundaries, the neighborhoods, the demographics of the situation.
A: Yes. We had just moved into what we called in those days, because we wanted to reach equality in numbers in schools, at the secondary.....well, at the elementary schools we had already gone through pairing, grades one, two, three in one part, grades five, six, seven in the other..... to get the white and the black communities to mix, at least in the school. We found that we had three junior high schools, middle schools in those days, so it was a case of how did you get the mix? We were also into what we called the two-two-two organization for the last six years. The thought being three schools spread out in different parts of town. At grades seven and eight, the middle schools. Then in two schools, two of the old high schools became ninth and tenth grade schools.....that was like an east-side, west-side arrangement, and then in the center of town, was this school, T.C. Williams, and everybody came to it for grades eleven and twelve, so that you did have.....a kid, if he was going to enter Alexandria and stay in the schools, could plan on being in five schools in order to get done twelve years. And, to make that work in my particular case, I was in the west-side of town which was the lily-white end of town, and to get my black population, I got 'em from the northeast part of town which was black. I got a segment, a large segment from there. The southeast, the other end of town, I got population from them, and then half-way down the Duke Street corridor was a very poor World War II housing development, Cameron Valley, and I drew from them also. I had nothing in the way of commonality of twelve-hundred kids in terms of when they left school, they just disappeared all over town. So, we did run for our school, if I remember, close to twenty school buses, twenty Metro buses. They're larger than the normal school buses, 'cause we used Metro in those days, we didn't have any school buses. But we ran about twenty buses to get our kids in and out of John Adams.
Q: Could you also describe the characteristics of your staff, and describe the physical plant... John Adams itself?
A: John Adams was built.....with the.....and it was built to fit.....with the idea of the basic subject teaming process. Math, social studies, science, and English. The rooms were set so that they were, with the exception of the science wing, because of the plumbing and what-have-you on one end of the school, the teams would be in adjacent rooms to each other. Three, four teachers would be teaming. The original concept was that the curriculum would be developed around a thematic approach where all four of those particular subject areas would contribute to a common theme. That's very difficult to do. When the staff was first picked, people were selected who said that they could fit into this kind of situation. It's a good scheme, and I think it's a sound scheme. We even, in the teacher day, for that team, had a period for individualized planning, and a period set aside for the team to plan; with the youngsters going to their special subject areas during those two hours -- the arts, the physical education, the shops, and what have you they would go there. So, we had the teaming idea pretty much in mind what we wanted. Unfortunately, several things work against that, especially in this area. People come and go, so your staff changes, and maybe you don't get a staff member who is quite willing to supplement their own personality into what is best for the team. The second thing was, we picked.....seventh and eighth grades were picked as the middle school years. Everybody argues, you know, should it be six-seven, six-seven-eight, you can argue what ever way you want on that; from biological and psychological growth's idea. But, we had picked, or the city had picked seven and eight. Fortunately, seventh grade is elementary. People who teach seventh grade are trained in elementary education. They're general educationists. They make the best teaming people, because of their.....they're sort of a general practitioner. The eighth grade, in the state of Virginia, is the first of the five years of secondary education, which means everybody is specialized. They just teach one subject, and they are tied to a progression of what has to be done by grade by grade be grade, so that they don't quite lend themselves too well to thematic approach, because they have a curriculum that they say locksteps them, and that's all they want to teach. So, the next thing you know, instead of thematic approach, we end up with "time share", and what is the best way? Can I take an hour-and-a-half today, and give you the extra half-hour tomorrow kind of approach, which doesn't really get what you're after in the basic philosophy. My seventh grade groups were very, very small as teams, because of their nature. And, you try and keep you teams together as long as possible.....your teaming folks. We now have a lot of those folks here at T.C. Williams. Very strong teachers. For example, seventh grade, you knew you were in a. seventh grade room, because of posters.....because of lots of different things changing all the time on the walls. They were put there by the teachers. You went to the eighth grade rooms, and it's like walking into your rooms right here at T.C. Williams. There' s not a blasted thing up there that doesn't get changed, or they're not really put up there for attractiveness, they're put up for utilitarianism. I need the maps in geography, so the map will be up there, but there's not an awful lot of pictures up there. There's not an awful lot of change of scenery which you get in the elementary training. That's part of what goes into good learning, and good atmosphere. So, that's basically what it was. Another difficulty you run into with the teachers with this teaming, that we've found out was the specialized teachers didn't have two planning was a wonderful idea, but it's the kind of thing, if you' re going to put it in, you really have to make sure all of you components are there. Otherwise, you're constantly listening to the noise and rust in the wheels you really don't need, and it just gets in the way of what you're trying to do.
Q: Let's move on to principal and teacher relations. When you were principal, how did you evaluate teachers? You went into their classrooms what did you expect of them?
A: It's a little bit difficult for me to get.....I think we're getting into.....I'm glad I'm getting out of education when I'm getting out. First off, I think we've developed a.....I've been a principal, I've been an assistant principal, I haven't changed what I'm doing in ten years, but my job title and emphasis and if you want what-have-you has changed almost every three years. I found out that I wasn't an assistant principal. I was a management specialist for a few years. Now what in the world a management specialist is, I really don' t know. I think also, we may be getting to, trying to get too technical and too rigid, in trying to define "what is teaching?"......what is the best way to get an interplay between the individuals to get knowledge back and forth. You know, everybody should be in lockstep. I don't think you can. I think there's two things that have worked against that really. I noticed we had a questionnaire yesterday that I wrote to Dorothy Torpey on that said "Thank God at last somebody is writing a questionnaire to deal with.....hey, how successful are you in getting this across?" What do you do? How come I'm having difficulty with getting this idea across with this bunch? Have you tried this? Does it work? We spend more time talking about management, talking about control, discipline -- that magic word. If you listen to teacher rooms, we spend ninety percent of the time you go in there, the one thing you don't hear is discussion of the art of effective instruction. What is it that you do Sawyer, that got this point across, and I'm sitting here and I can't get it across? We don't share voluntarily if we're successful. We hide our little things behind a wall. Like, I've got the only secret, and it's like walking into a room of where folks are all air aces and nobody's part of the squadron. And, if you listen to discussions in faculties, that seems to be it. And if you listen to discussions with administrators.....they really don't talk instruction and techniques, they talk magic systems and ratings. Mark it down every thirty seconds. Who did what? Student quest ion. Teacher question. Somebody sneezed, and it disrupted the class. And how was that handled, or what-have you. And there's nothing that's going on to say hey, you've got a wonderful dialogue going on with your kids. They're all in it. They're all sitting in there. Or, Sawyer, how come the two guys in the back are eight paces away from everybody, and you don't talk to them? Is there a reason for that? And if there is, how can you get them to come up the eight paces, and you can get them into your group? Nobody seems to spend that much time anymore. We're all interested in "do we meet a form, do we meet certain steps that somebody has magically said this year are the ones we're looking for.....then next year we're going to look for more things in the way of steps", and we're not telling anybody are you being good or not? There shouldn't be any reason why if I walk down the hall of the school, and in John Adams I expected to do this, and my faculty did, I expected to walk down the hall, open doors, and I expected I could just stop at the door, spend two, three, four minutes looking at you..... not coming into the classroom, you acknowledged I was there, I could see the dialogue that was going on, and that if I had something that was a question to me, I didn't particularly like what I saw, I would expect to be able to write you a note, hey Sawyer, drop in I've got a question, and then sit down and say, hey what was going on because I didn't think it was, it didn't look like we were doing anything in there that was real positive. Too many kids were heads on desks, or sleeping, or what-have-you, and I'd expect you to give me an answer and then, O.K., hey how about if I come in two days from now? I'm going to drop by two days from now, and, same time frame, so it's the same kids, and let's see if it's the same thing, and maybe you and I can find out what it is together. Now, why should that be part of a stylized, formalized report? I know, the other side of it is you have to build up so much in the way of a record to justify that you are going to get rid of the incompetent or what-have-you, and we're almost getting to the point that we're paranoid in this profession. If you say hello to me, I then say "What do you mean by that?" What in the world does he.....does he really mean that? Hey, Frear said "nice job". What in the world did he really mean by that? Instead of accepting "nice job". Or, hey, I didn't like what went on. I didn't think, you know.....now enlighten me as to what it was instead of "give me your battle plan by the minutes. Kids don't live by the minute. We teach fifty minute classes, because years ago, somebody decided that was the magic number. The attention span of the American public is twenty-three minutes out of thirty minutes, because that's the way the media gives it to us, and they break it twice with commercials, so that your attention is on and drops off, and is on and drops off. Why aren't we teaching to the same method people are receiving everything else, from media or everything else coming in from outside. Maybe one of the reasons is we don't want to do it, it's too dang much work, it means change, and it sure as hell is not the way we are being trained by the trainers in colleges because they don't.....half of them have never been in the classroom and dealt with these kids to start with. All we're getting is theory, but that doesn't get you off the ground and get you flying with what you've got to fly with. Enough of my preaching.
Q: What techniques, as a principal, did you use to make teachers feel comfortable, important, part of the squadron as you say?
A: Number one, I thing what you do is, everything has to be said almost with a smile, if you want, with an openness, with a candidness. I had a lot of people tell me that I should not poke as much fun at myself as I did in meetings, in large meetings. But, I thought that it was worth it because it also then, gave an approachability to some folks, that if he's going to be that much open, I don't hesitate. I had, and I'd always had, and it interferes sometimes with other work that I may want to get done, but I do believe in "it's open door". It's not open door with the clerk telling me that somebody is there. It's open door come up knock, call attention to the person if they have a problem. That's more important to settle that person's problem right now, because they're going back to kids, than it is with what I'm doing with a hunk of paper in the office. I also believe you ought to get out of the office. Really be out roaming. Moving. Because when you are, that's when you get your ease of dialogue with folks. Drop into the teacher's lounge, but don't just drop in and what-have-you, drop in and then open up conversation. Open up, solicit folk's opinions. What do you think if we? What do you think if this went? Do you think this is a good thing to do? I just would like to know. I'm trying to get a sense. And you'd be surprised how people will respond to that, we're going to deal with this thing. Maybe I'll mix-up seventh and eighth grade and put them together, so that there's a cross-section of the school in terms of when I'm dealing with those eight, eight people. Put the special subject people mixed-up in teams, even though they're not part of the team, because obviously one of the things you're also trying to do is figure how to get that concept down further to include more people. There's probably ways. You're going to have to go crazy and work them out a schedule to do it. Time and space are the big things, but if you do that, you have people that then feel that they're part of the action. They don't mind coming to you with "what ifs", and "let's do", and that is the number one thing I think you got to do with you staff. In a large staff, like at this school, I don't know if you can get that kind of a dialogue. It was difficult when we were ten teams in an eight team school. That meant that two teams were floating, and that's a difficult thing. It's difficult for folks to feel they're a part of something when they really don't have a home base to operate out of. But that's a difficult thing. We know that at this school, there are faculty meetings where there's almost nothing but announcement Announcement. Announcement. Maybe what we need is two afternoons a week. My God, that means that somebody has to break the mold of what we're doing and "is that in the contract?", "is that in our way of life?", but maybe we have to do that. Maybe you have to have half the faculty at one and half at the other so you get a chance at a little dialogue. You know what it's like. There is no discussion at our faculty meetings. Sometimes, there's not half the faculty there. We have a hundred and seventy-five, and I very seldom see more that a hundred, hundred and ten; and I know we don't have forty-five coaches. So, there again, do we get that word around? I think a lot of people in a large school, like this especially, don't feel a part of it. They just come, do their thing, and leave. And, if they're just coming and doing their thing, and the school is not the social center anymore for the kids, so the kids are just coming in and doing their thing and leaving, then certainly you don't have a school that's going to have all that you want it to be in any way, shape, or form. I not to sure right now that that is one of the problems that people have to face up to, and they don't want to do it right now.
Q: In the 1970's, when you were principal, if a teacher received a negative evaluation, what was done to help them?
A: If a teacher received a negative evaluation, the number one thing that was done to help them, would be one, I would attempt to identify what it was with the person, try to work out approaches to get that corrected with the person. I would enlist, if I could, always if it was a discipline, a department head, a designated department head, say please give a hand with this person. See if you can come in with some suggestions. If necessary, ask the, and we had them in those days, the so-called "specialists", curriculum specialists. Ask the curriculum specialist to come in. The difficulty is doing that.....is making sure that the person who is receiving the help doesn't feel that these are a bunch of hatchet people coming in, laying down impossible conditions, and then standing back just to pull the rope on them. You've got to offer the suggestions, and then be the one the person feels they can lean on. Say I'm not getting it. I can't do this, or what-have-you, and then do that. That's a very difficult thing to do, because there are also some people, let's face it, they're incompetent. They just no longer, or never have been able to do the magic thing that you can not, I defy anybody to give me the real, solid way to establish communication between folks. Be able to be the one that can communicate, so that it's received by the learner if you want, in a way that the learner will absorb it. How that person does that, I don't know. I certainly think.....I can give you mechanics, and I can help you with trying to get that mechanics across, but I would also have to be honest with you, after due time, saying hey, I know you've tried this, I know your heart is good, I know this is what you want to do, but you're not getting across. So, you know, you' re not helping you, and you're not helping kids.
Q: Did you ever fire a teacher?
A: Yes, I have seen that a teacher was fired through hearings. Of course, another thing, and I don't mind saying this.....we're getting too small of school system now, we can't do this, but in the larger school systems, rather than to go through the hassle of firing somebody, the hearings, the going before school board members who are solid citizens but now think they're the supreme court and that they're all lawyers and they're all going to go after this so legalistically, that nobody knows what the hell they're doing. Rather than to go through that, if you've got a large school system, obviously what you do is trade off. Tell you what, Sawyer, maybe mine would be happier in your atmosphere, and I'll tell you, you've got who over there? All right, I'll tell you what, I'll take him, and I'll try working with him, and you take mine. Sometimes mine is so bad, that I not only say take mine, you also got a draft choice. The next opening that comes along, I won't fight you too much if Smith wants to go your way. I won't try to fight that voluntary transfer too much, by going after her and persuade her that this....she should stay in this place. In the larger school systems, that's done a lot. That's done a lot, because it's easier to do that than to get into the mechanics, and what we really are doing is cheating the kids. For sure, we're cheating the kids. And, it shouldn't be done, but it's expedient. And it is done.
Q: Was the education association, or the teacher's union, whatever you want to call that, were they ever a concern to you as an administrator?
A: I knock on wood. I never had a teacher file a grievance on me. Had protest meetings. Had protest meetings that would involve the whole staff, or I'd bring it to a faculty meeting, and say "this is what's bugging everybody, now let's get it out in the open and see what it is, and let everybody trust themselves". But, I never had one that filed a grievance on me where I had to then go through the steps of the grievance. The education association filed a grievance on me, when I was appointed to be the principal. They said that I wasn't qualified, and they were right. Probably, technically, I wasn't qualified, although I was an administrator and they were making an administrative transfer. So, on that basis, that's as far as that particular grievance went. I was never involved in it. It was a protest about me that went to the superintendent, and I never heard anything more of it. I never was involved in it, but at the same time I knew I 'd better get the certification at the end of that school year. So, that is what we were doing.
Q: As a principal, did you ever try to identify and develop prospective school administrators?
A: Yes. Is this going to be used around T.C. Williams? (laughter).
Q: No, it'll be given to Virginia Tech
A: It'll be given to Virginia Tech. The reason I say that is because one of the administrators, now, at T.C. Williams, was a teacher who I attempted, well, I did use as a substitute for one of my administrators twice when my administrator was gone for long periods of time for illness. And as an acting administrator, and with that title "acting" assistant principal, I called on this person twice to step in, to take a hand, and in those instances, yes, it was with daily conferencing. You could say that, yes, I was instructing in administrative technique, in job responsibility, and what-have-you, and allowing that person to do that job, which is basically the difficulty now-a-days, is how do you delegate, which you must do, and yet be able to have control and not inhibit the person to the point where they feel you're not delegating, and that can only be done I think by dialogue between people, as they examine what in the world it is they're doing, and what in the world it is they want to do; so that if you lay out a responsibility to a person for a specific area, yes define it, very definitely define what is involved, not just in general terms, but what is involved to the person, so that yes, they understand there's a step one, two, three, four, five, six, in a progression, and then say fine, you know what it is, now I'm going to turn you loose to do it. If you run into difficulty, for God's sake, I expect that you're going to let me know that real fast, so that we don't get in a quagmire. And understand that, if I see that it's a little bit off line, don't be alarmed if I come to you and say "oh wait a minute, would you please tell me because I think we're going the wrong way". And that is about the best way that I know of that you can do this. You just can't say lockstep into the plan. Maybe the person's pace, maybe the person's personality, will work, but at a little bit different pace that you had thought these steps should be done. But as long as you can see they're effective, then I think you say, hey, go ahead. It's when we see that it's not going to be effective, or there's trouble, then I think that's when you say that. And if you get that understanding with the person ahead o f time, then you don't run into resentment, he cut me off, or he did that. And not do a hell of a lot of writing. Notes, which is the bane of T.C. Williams. We don't talk to each other, we write each other. Which means there is always 24 hours between what was written and what an answer is. And frankly, if you write each other and it requires four different exchanges, by the time the last exchange is made everybody has forgotten what the hell the person wants, so you end up not talking to each other at all.
Q: Did the Alexandria Public Schools, or your school in particular, have any educational philosophy?
A: In the seventies, I think the number one philosophy was survive. That was number one. Number two would be to meet the demands of the community. Social integration, was number one. Keep the peace, have an order, have a sense of order. I think that is where the public may have started to get away from, thinking education and learning is the number one thing. There's nobody speaks education and learning now, as the number one thing in education since the 70's. They always speak of conduct, they always speak of behavior, they always speak of changing, modifying, that kind of a thing before they get around to talking about, effective learning and what are we turning out and how good the mastery is. I think the one thing that we tried to do, was to make sure that our philosophy of our approaches to education, the thematic approach, and that everybody would get involved in it, was the number one thing we worked at. Because basically what we were trying to do, was put a hundred kids to identify with their hundred, in every sense of the word. That was like, if you could say, eight schools, nine schools, ten schools in one, each individual unit, and that was fine. Then we had to make sure that everybody was teaching to curriculum requirements, if that's what it was. That we were utilizing the best techniques to get instruction across to their particular group. So that yes, it might be a little bit different, even the timing in certain topics, and the order and sequence might be changed a bit, if it fitted the group. As long as we got everything in that we wanted, that we were required to get in, and that this was sort of the way you went to teachers and said this is what we want, and let's do this. And it's a tough thing to do, even my last years, it was to the point where I had to say teams give me one in each semester, one common theme that you will all stay with for a week or two. But, give it to me ahead of time, so that I can see that everybody has had input, everybody is respecting each other's discipline, that we're not overloading the youngsters in this regard, and let me look at it. I want to see it, I want to be able to show it to somebody, that, yes, this is it.....and that was after this program had supposedly been in the Alexandria schools for seven years. But, we were still pulling at that at all three of the middle schools, to get that idea. Simply, because basically, we had the solo flyers at the secondary level who did not have the training and appreciation for how to be a general practitioner. So we did have a difficulty with that, because that's what we were after, the basic philosophy. The general practice of learning were all fit in and combined, and interrelated with each other, and that still isn't done too much. If you look at teaming around the country; look at the teaming we were talking about earlier this year here in this school. It ended up with everybody coming back.....the only thing we could possibly do is share time, and that idea, I don't see surfacing anymore. I think it's going down the other way now, because that's a little too difficult to do. And of course, just to put one team or two teams in, and twenty-four hundred kids, I don't think we're quite sophisticated enough and have enough space to allow that school within a school, within a school, within a school, kind of organization to happen, so I don't think we're going to come up with that.
Q: During all your years in education, teaching, assistant principal, principal, what do you feel have been the best educational innovations and ideas that you've seen come around?
A: That is a very, very tough one. (Laughter) I think the idea, again, I'm sold on the idea of thematic approach, rather than chronological if it's history, or the lockstep by lockstep curriculum development thing. Not everything develops as math, in a sequential .....where it needs to be, yes, that's fine, but where it isn't, then why do we do it? Why don't we do something else? And that is an idea that I think is slowly coming around. I'm enthused about having the community, having other people, not just the so-called educators involved in the actual instruction of schooling. Of course, that was the old ways, originally of schools. But having business come in to the schools and provide instruction, provide the update of what it is to get ahead in the world in that regard .....the Jefferson School concept out here in Fairfax County is an example. I'm enthused in other areas of the country where they are now going to specialized schools according to a particular topic. You know, the one that gets all the glamour is the drama and music aspect. But you can have a science school, you can have a school that's developed to art as its basic, number one approach, much as the vocational schools that we now use, almost as an alternative school in the state of Virginia where they put the vocational training center, quote, unquote, separated from everybody else, provide the basic core subjects for the educational degree, the English, the history, the math; it's all done within the one building, but it's basically aimed at that activity as its whole prime mover for the kids that are there. Well, we ought to be doing with other areas of our learning curriculum. There's no reason we shouldn't, and develop the schools that way. What's the key word they call it now? Magnet schools? In Alexandria, "magnet" is try to get the white back into the black area, because we've got to have a mix. And, it's not successful because it's not much of a magnet. Anybody can buy a computer these days, so why go to a school and give them ten more computers, which is basically what the Alexandria situation is. That's got to get changed if they're going to do it. But look at the other areas around here that have done that. Prince Georges, lining up, some would say white-flight, but it's more than white-flight, it's also specialties. And I think that's it. I think that might be the answer to the voucher pressure on the public schools. I think that's a key. A disappointment is how we have organized ourselves so bureaucratically, in terms of putting together organizations. I think back to twenty-three schools in this little area of Alexandria.....twenty-three, twenty-four school system with a downtown headquarter s of maybe thirty, including all the clerks and what-have-you, and now I see a school system of eleven schools, with a decrease from twenty-three thousand to under ten thousand. And I see a headquarters that has almost thirty in the superintendents office. And the clerk of the board's office. And God knows how many are in the other paper-shuffling organizations that have been set up, which stifles the schools, and siphons off the money and what-have-you. I don't think we need that. I think we ought to get away from that. Put it back where it belongs, put it into the schools. Alexandria at one time was the envy of everybody around here when we were in the eleventh and twelve grade school only, because we only had to buy one of whatever it is we wanted, science equipment or what-have-you. We only had to but one. We didn't have to buy three for three high schools. Consequently, we had the most sophisticated science department at T.C. Williams that caused envy of all the college representatives and everybody else who came to this school. Ask somebody about our science library that we had created upstairs, that's now part of an endless series of math rooms. But that was a room where kids could just go in and do nothing but deal with science reference. And it was built by the science department. Sound laboratory we had, that dealt strictly with that aspect of science. We had more people, science instructors, trying to get into T.C. Williams because of what we had in the way of where-with-all, that it was.....we were the envy of everybody around here. We're no longer that, because we've encroached on it, taken the space up, we don't have the money for it, and frankly I think we spend all the money now over on headquarters on the rugs and what-have-you over there, and what you get over here you get. And that's it. That's just bitterness coming through. But that's the way education has gone. We don't need that. We got to have it the other way.
Q: Along those same lines, what do you think have been the worst ideas, or innovations that you've seen come around?
A: I think I probably talked more on worst than I did on best in that la s t answer.
Q: The bureaucracy
A: Obviously, the bureaucracy is the worst. I think number two is the pressure that is being put on kids to out perform, to be so much better, to be tested, tested, tested, to the point where they don't even want to look at a test, and won't look at many tests. I know in this school, our major tests that we give, on the national scope, I know that the kids don't care whether they do them or don't do them, unless they have a real personal interest, and it gets me into college.....me, myself.....they don't care whether they do them or don' t do them, and I know that. I've watched. I've talked to them. I've listened to them. They're tired of being tested in the third grade, the fifth grade, the ninth grade, the eleventh grade on whatever it is it might be, just so somebody can say statistically that they have advanced or not. Doesn't mean anything to them. There's no pride.....it's not approached even like this is a prideful thing to do. So the kids, I think, give false messages to somebody who wants to take all of this and be a statistical genius. That's not talking to the kid. That's not finding out do they really know history, do they really know English, do they have a love for art, what is it they want to do with their future, where is there confusion? That's not doing anything like that. What it means is that the college doesn't have to go through an interview system. It make s it easy to select because it's a seller's market, except that in the last five years, it's suddenly becoming more and more a buyer's market, and now the colleges are going crazy, because now they have to learn the art of how to talk with somebody, and how to convince them to come to their place. You know, it's almost like the football recruiter in a lot of instances, where before it was here it is, if you want it, this is what you do, you get these numbers. You get these numbers. If you're good at taking tests, you're going to be great going to college. But if you're a kid that's not good a taking tests, but can verbalize well, has the ability to put thought together, absorbs what is being given to them in terms of knowledge, and then can turn around and show a mastery of it, other than a written test, that kid's out in left field. He has no chance whatsoever. And then they wonder why people get turned off. But you know that. You give tests in your room, and God help you if.....the other thing is everything now has to be so mechanical, don't write a paragraph.....fill in a blank. It's easier for you. Quote, it's easier for the kid; he only has to learn a word, you're going to supply him with the thought. But is that really showing mastery, or is it just regurgitating a word, the key word that you want? There again, lifestyles have changed. We've got so many other things. Pressures on yourself individually, as a teacher, as a human being and what-have-you, that's it tough to find the time to put in, quote, extra, to grade eighty-five, three pieces of nothing but writing to try to get thoughts that you're wrestling with. In the long run which is going to show the better of the mastery of the subject? That's the thing of it. Again, it's what do you want out of this occupation? Satisfaction? What you see you have given to other individuals, just by their actions back. Or ten years later, their thank you back. Just by a nod that you see when you pass the street. That you understand.....you see that there's a respect that they have for you. You can see that they're getting ahead in life, so you feel satisfied with that. Frankly, teaching was what? Teaching and preaching was a great life of gentile poverty, and that meant that you not starve, you'd be comfortable, but you're not going to be in the rat race of measuring yourself monetarily with somebody. But you' re going to be satisfied, and you're always going to be able to make it. And that's basically, I think, one of the things right now we have the problem. We're no longer in a position for John Public to treat us like that. Here in Alexandria, out salary scale is so high above the median salary scale of the city of Alexandria, it's not even funny. Consequently, you're at a point where as far as John Public is concerned, they're not on your side anymore. They want better education. Everybody wants better education. Nobody can define what the hell it is.....in the long.....way down the line, just what it is. It means that my kid is going to be rated a genius, and my kid is immediately is going to be financially secure and successful and what-have-you and the envy of the world. And if he's not, then it wasn't good education. What I'm going to do is say now Sawyer, you're making more than I am, and you're the teacher, that means, hey, you got to show me that you deserve it, because you're now up there with the high wages whether you like it or not, whether you plead poverty of not, you really are in the upper end now. You've quit being down at the lower preacher end, and the lower good old teacher end where, you know, gentile poverty. Now you said, I'll deliver. And of course, the other thing we've done to get to that point, we, by our own crux, and our own way of approaching it, have sold the public that we are this good, and we can do this. We sold them that without equivocation. We can do it, and now people are saying, "how come we still got the diseases? You were the doctors, where are all the cures?" So what the heck, now show me. Or, the next thing your work year gets longer. The more money you get, the more time on the job people say you should do. And that changes your lifestyle too. And it changes the approach to the kids too. It's not going to be too long, and you're going to have two hundred, two hundred and five day years, two hundred and twenty day years as teachers. You're going to have to, because the public's going to say, hey, I'm paying you, I want to see.....if I don't see the results, if I can't see this glorious success, then the next thing I want to see is that you're working like hell at it, and that can only be if I see you on the job. So, look for longer days, with higher pay.
Q: Let me get you to respond to your perception of these things. I'm just going to give them to you in rapid-fire order. Class size.
A: Class size.
Q: Too big, too small?
A: You know, it's a funny thing, again, it goes back to the personality that's handling it. It's difficult to say what is the ideal class size. I've seen people with ten kids foul up so fast it's not even funny, and I've seen other people with what I 'd say would be tremendous loads, thirty-three, thirty-four, thirty-five, handle it and say, you got another one? I'll take it if it means that it's either failure, or give 'em to me and I'll see what I can do with it. It's the nature of the people. If you're looking for a class size, one of the things you have to look.....I'll tell you what determines class size more than anything else.....the space you're putting them in. If you're putting them into a room that is going to crowd them, and put them so close together they start rubbing sparks with each other simply for living space and for moving space, and getting attention space, if you put them into a small space, and you put too many people in there.....I don't care, the greatest teacher in the world is going to have problems. So first off, my first thing would be, how much space you got? Then, the second thing is, how many people you got that you can have as teachers? How many teachers have you got? And, those are the two things that dictate class size. You can claim.....everybody plays games with numbers, and averages. I can get you a class size that will be great. I can give you fifty people Sawyer, and I can give Miss Smith down there ten, and I can include the nurse as part of the staff of the school, and I'll divide those numbers by three, and I'll tell you what my average class size is. My average load per person is what you're saying. Call it class size, but what it really is load per person. So I can play numbers with you any way you want. And that's the way the numbers game is played now. So yes, count me. I'm the assistant principal. Count me. I don't have a class per se, so yes, I'll count against you as part of the total employees in determining how many kids per employee, how many kids per educator we've got in this, in this room, if that's the number I want to give to the public. I can do it that way. It is done that way.
Q: Merit pay. How do you feel about that?
A: I'm a great believer in merit pay. I'm a great believer that you ought to pay a person for what you believe, and what you say they do. And to go along with that, would be "my God, how do you judge?" You're going to get subjective. Education is subjective. Whether you say a person is educated or not is a subjective judgement. When you make out your grades, I don't care what you do -- numbers, letters, off-the-wall, I don't care how you do it, you do it subjectively. No matter how you try to tell me, it's objective -- hundred answers, five is this, six is that, and what-have-you uh, uh. Deep down, you will arrive at a subjective evaluation of how well that person is doing.....how much, quote, education they have, how much they have mastered. Because when you deal with people, when you dealing with the human, you don't quit that. You can't measure that objectively all the way. If you could, one pill would cure everything. But one pill might work for you, but I have to have a different one. So even the doctors, or lawyers, or what-have-you, deal with it that way. I'm a disciplinarian, and the word I hear all the time is "disciplinarians are not uniform". Right? We are not in lockstep in what we do in dealing with the same offense, quote, unquote. That's a great word, offense. But that's what we call it now, offense. So, I might deal with you differently than Roosevelt Peebles will upstairs. Roosevelt Peebles has a different personality, and a different setting, and it might require a different approach to get the problem resolved. And frankly, that's the whole thing you're after. If we were good, we get the problems resolved. We get the problems resolved with the minimum discomfort and dis.....let's say disruption, of the education process, of the teaching process, of the classroom atmosphere, if we get the problems resolved, and the behavior changed effectively, and that's where the hell we can say we're uniform. But don't say automatically everybody's going to get seven days out of school when they do this. You walk in and everybody's going to get this punishment for that. And everybody's going to get this for that. That doesn't change behavior. It's how you reach that individual, and got them to change their behavior from here after, and that's very difficult for people to understand.
Q: How about minimum competency tests for teachers?
A: Minimum competency tests for teachers. You're talking subject matter, I hope.
Q: That's correct
A: I'm all for it. Anybody that doesn't know.....isn't immersed in their subject, shouldn't be teaching. Absolutely not. Subject matter. I don't see how you ca n get minimum competency for instructional technique, or how to get the idea across. I don't see where that could be done at all. But definitely, if you don't know your subject matter, you don't belong in there to start with.
Q: What misperceptions do you think teachers have of administrators?
A: Probably, the number one perception they have is, that guy doesn't know what goes on in a classroom. He has no understanding of the difficulties in getting across instruction. He gives me too much theory, and not enough actually knowing what I'm dealing with, and then giving me, in terms of that, what needs, what I need in the way of help. That's number one. Number two, a distrust of the administrator, because the administrator makes decisions that affect the person, and the decisions might not be what I want. I not only want Frear to handle this case, but I also tell him what I want him to do with it. And, the difficulty is to accept, as we do with our judges nowadays. The common thing with judges is that you don't like the decision. You not only want the judgement to be made by somebody else.....not you, you want that decision to be made by somebody else, rather than having to put up with whatever the ramifications in terms of unpleasantness, that you, the teacher, would have to do. You want a decision made in that particular instant, number one by somebody else, so basically you can always say, "he did it". Don't come to me, it's him. But, then after the decision is made, you want review authority, and you can't have it both ways. Nobody can have it both ways. So, we scream about court decisions. In the teaching racket, teachers scream about administrative decisions that are made; that are made, quote, without their input, or if there was their input, nobody paid them any attention, because probably there wasn't sense between the administration decision-making on one side, and the teaching staff on the other. There wasn't that agreement that should have been reached between the two of them, that yes, I will listen, and I will respect it. It may not be what you want, but I have heard it, and I want you to understand that, and if necessary, I will come back and say, "yes I had heard it, but this is the way the decision had to be made in my mind, and that is the way it is going to be. You always have the right to continue to remind me if it's not going like it should. I will always respect your right to remind me of, hey, I have a better idea, and yes, if it works out that way I should then be flexible enough to say, hey, it's time to change, we'll have to try your idea. But, it has to be that kind of trust, and we don't have it right now. So we have, we have a dirty word, that has nothing to do with education. That's administrator. Time was, you were the principal teacher. That's where the origin of "principal" comes from. But, you were a teacher. That little picture behind you, that gets more comments from kids than you can shake a stick at. That one-room schoolhouse that I had the picture taken of in Wales, at the museum, just to have a one-room schoolhouse. Kid sits there in the chair, and the first thing they look at that and turn around and look at me and say, "were you a teacher?" Did you used to teach? They don't look at that and know what it is, in its historical context, that it has one room, and everything else, and I'm standing there with a pointer in my hand, that I can whack them across the head with, and what-have-you to keep my order and what-have-you. They don't look at that. Their question to me is, were you a teacher? They don't even consider me as part of being an educator right now. So there's a dirty word that you could throw out, wash it, and get rid of it. I don't care what you call it, but for God's sake, get the fellows back into the side of where everybody is saying at least they're in the same ball game. But right now, you know it, I'm an administrator. Be fore that, I was a management specialist. Before that I was a principal. I haven't changed greatly in all those years, and my job hasn't changed much in any of those years, but look at where I am now. Now you know why I am going to retire? I can't stand another job title (laughter).
Q: In the early '70's, there was concern nation-wide for dress codes, hair length, allowing pregnant girls in the classroom, campus unrest, political assassination attempts, racial violence, desegregation, and more. What issue was your biggest headache?
A: Well, my biggest headache in those years was violent protests, because that's what everybody was into. And it had gotten down into the junior high school. In my early years there.....well, I have a I'll holler a little bit louder, but I'll read you something that used to come onto my desk that I keep up here. This was 4/19/76. This was on my desk when I came to work, "To the SCA or whoever. To whom it may concern. All students at JAMS have decided to walk out at 10:20 Thursday if the fans and air conditioners are not turned on. Hope you will 'perticipate'.....I won't spell it the way they spelled it, but 'perticipate', I'm saying it the way it's spelled.....We are willing to do it and we will. Don't be chickens. Sincerely, Hot People." Younger kids in the junior high always have to tell you. That's why it's such a great age to work with. They haven't gotten sophisticated, and they don't realize there's a gray in life. So they'll tell you that they're going to raise hell before they do it, and they'll tell you if they're going to be good, and be the best thing in the world. Because that's the only two areas that their lifestyle has adjusted to. But, it had gotten down to protests. I've been in situations where I've had to lock the school doors, and tell those that are outside, I'll open up the school door and you can come back in in twenty minutes, or I'll call every parent and tell them to come pick you up off the street. In this day and age, you don't think that was a possible thing, but that was routine in the '70's. In was routine for demonstrating students from T.C. Williams to come down to GW (Note: George Washington). March down, right down Braddock Road, and expect tomorrow the GW traffic will march up to T.C. Williams. And that was basically black-white.....was the issue in those days. But, we went away from night activities. Night football games, we got rid of those fast, because of the violence that would occur, basically black-white, our town, their town kind of thing, and we have no lights. You notice that at T.C. Williams, there are no lights on the football field, because T.C. was built in the late '60's, mid-60's and just when this was happening, and right away, somebody very smartly said don't put lights there, and we eliminate a problem. So, that was a number one thing. Dress has always been a bane, and the outrageousness of dress was a bane. In the '70's, at the junior high school level, drugs became a tremendous problem. So much so, nobody wanted to talk about it. In the '70's, when you talk drugs to everybody, and you were an educator, if you talked drugs in the '70's, to a family, you didn't say the word 'drug'. You approached it like, "there is a problem". There is a "change of behavior.....mysterious". "Have you noticed that?" Why, because you were scared to death you'd get yourself sued from here to breakfast, for false accusation. That was in the '70's. In the '80's, it's the first thing you say. It comes right out. "Do you think so-and-so is using drugs?" to the family. It's a normal part of conversation now. But in the '70's, at the junior high school level, it was a problem hitting us that we just didn't know how to get a handle on it, although we knew it was there. And it was there. They were all out in the woods all the time smoking pot and what-have-you. And it was a case of find them individually, and deal with them individually, but nobody talked about that problem. Nobody talked about that problem. Here at this school, pregnancy is like topsy, it's just "growed". And, when it's gotten so that it was really big, there was no preventive kinds of talk about it, because, remember in the '70's the other thing that we were running into was who teaches values? And God help the school if they were teaching the wrong values, because John Public.....it's the Watergate, the aftermath of the Watergate kind of approach to authority, and I think we've been cursed ever since the Watergate thing with the Watergate syndrome. Anybody in authority now is suspect in making decisions because they must have other motives. So, consequently schools backed off from that tremendously. In the '80's, we're facing a pressure. The family's dissolved. The family unit is dissolved. Forty, forty-five percent of our kids now are only tied to one adult. They're not tied to two. They're tied to one, or they're by themselves here in this school. They've been farmed out to two, or three, or four family members. That's one of the difficulties we have in our school right now. Our teaching staff, not being native, or in the locality, really doesn't understand, I don't think, the large, vast majority of them, the upheaval in the family life that had happened, so we still go by the old tried-and-true "I want to talk to his parents. I won't have him back until his mother has signed a note", and what-have-you. They could care less. That doesn't exist. That doesn't exist. And what you have to face up with is, I've got a young person, or I've got a young individual, and I may have to get at that young individual, himself, herself, by myself. Now how to go about and do that. And of course your teachers and still being trained to the family unit, and the ###, and what-have-you, and that' s such a smaller and smaller force that you really have to face up to, what you have to deal with to get the response that you want. You know that I could ask you what your family backgrounds are on the kids that you had this year Sawyer, and I'll bet that fifty percent of them it's a blank. It's a blank. And yet we're three-quarters of the way through the life of that kid, and if that's kid been in a tremendous upheaval situation, that's going to affect what they do here. They're coming here sometimes as the last thing to normalcy that they have to hang onto. But they don't know how to hang on to it, because then they've got to go out and deal with their life when they leave you. And that's more important, and more of a stress on them, and it affects what they're doing here. And yet, you know, I'll still get, hey, I don't want to talk to him until a parent comes in and talks. Well, if a parent comes in, that's the first time the kid and the parent have met each other probably in three months. So what good does that accomplish? Really. Except we're going through and old way that we learned that this is the way schools operate, and this is the way the community operates, and this is where we get our support, you know, and what-have-you. And it's not there. And we're not facing up to it. We're not facing up to it.
Q: In the '70's, with all these issues at hand, did you see the community at large in an adversarial role or a cooperative role? Did they cooperate with you, or did they cause you more grief than you needed?
A: I really saw them.....I saw them in a cooperative way. Even those that were causing me grief. I'll explain what I mean. I n the '70's, the fellows who ran schools, joined in community organizations. Everybody in the school system here that ran a school, and was in headquarters in Alexandria, we all belonged to different civic organizations, because we needed them. It was a way of getting community support for us. So, it was deliberate. It was a deliberate kind of a situation that the superintendent of schools almost put out, encouraged it. Dick Hills and I were in the Kiwanis, Al Edgemond was with the Optimists. Somebody was with an other organization, so that we had community that we met. We met the community leaders once a week, on an equal basis, not on a problem basis, where you can exchange dialogue, and what-have-you.....concerns, in a very easy way. The community was strong behind the schools. Police support was right when you always wanted it, and they worked with us. For example, at George Washington, the police could only come in one door of the school at that time, because if they came in any other, it would set off demonstrations, because we had the black-white, and we had the role of the "pigs" and what-have-you. So, we had to work around that, but, the police were quick with the community relations kind of organization, and then we had to work with them. Now we've got it where we can have our policemen walk in the school, nobody says a word; we have them walk up and down, deliberately walk in front of the school. We want our policemen to dialogue with our kids, because that is a good.....that is an off-shoot of where we started from, nothing. And it works positively for us in that regard. The community that was in dissent, the black community, if you want to call it that, even the black community supported those of us who were in the schools. They wanted the problem changed, and they were going to make sure that the problem got changed, and they we r e going to demonstrate to get that problem changed, and if it meant disruption, it would be disruption. But, at the same time, they never lost, or we never felt, I don't think any of us in the situation felt that they were anti-us. They were anti-a problem, and we were in there, but we were trying to do the best for everybody by maintaining what we were after, which was the educational program. And, as long as we were doing that, nobody said, you know, we were favoring one over the other to the point that they wanted us out. So yes, the black community was behind us. It was a unique situation, I told you, Alexandria. The black community still supported.....they wanted school. And as long as we were going to give them school, and we had to work to convince them that we were giving it equally, and that was out intent to give it equally, and you worked at that. We visited them in their localities. We did all sorts of schemes in trying to bus parents to school, like mine, that spread out the school population. I tried to hold a social event. Send school buses out to see if we couldn't provide free transportation for the kids to come up. If we held meetings, see if we couldn't provide transportation. They could have demanded that we provide school bus transportation to bring folks to us that weren't ambulatory. And the poor are not ambulatory. Only those with money were ambulatory. Now-a-days, everybody is ambulatory. In those days, we had that problem to deal with, and we would try to deal with it that way. And we put in an awful lot of time on public relations. You know, the big catchword, but how to make it effective. And we would give up, you know, the time to go to the churches, and to go to the community meetings, and may have nobody show up and three or four. But the word was around that we were there, and that helped, because we made sure that we were visible. And here again, is what I told you at the start for a success school. If your leadership is visible and approachable, you can get so much done. And if you sit behind and be a planner, and be withdrawn you're not going to get a blasted thing done. You're going to end up with nothing but everybody fighting you every inch of the way and making your life completely miserable.
Q: I've asked you a variety if questions: personal questions, questions about Alexandria, educational issues, teacher-administrative relationships. We covered some Alexandria in 1970, 1987 and so on. What should I have asked you that I didn't? (Laughter) What else should be included in this? Anything else you want to say?
A: I don't know. You know, I'm on the way out, and I'm going out, I think, at the right time. If ever you get to the point in this racket.....notice that I don't call it a profession anymore, although I'd love to call it a profession.....I think we've gotten down to the plumber's level of professions in terms of that has a great value anymore. The trade. Whenever you're in this trade, if you ever reach a point, where you, feel that you against the kid, where you elevate that kid to your equal, in terms of you and me, and not me the teacher, you the student; if you ever allow that to happen, get out of this business. Get out of this business fast, because you're going to be unhappy, and worse, you're going to create and unhappy, and an unproductive product, which is the one you're in contact with. And I feel real good. Even today, I leave here everyday.....I've enjoyed my contact with the kids, I've enjoyed my contact with the folks here in the school. It's community. There was a couple of times in the '70's, my blood pressure went up..... naturally. My liquor bill went up tremendously. There was a time when, thank God, one teacher came to me one time at John Adams and said, "what the hell has happened to you? You used to be a guy that gave out compliments, little notes if necessary, or you said, hey, good job. You used to be a guy that would smile at somebody now and then, but of late, all I see of you, is that this is wrong. We're not doing this. We should be doing that." You've got a frown on your face all the time. And that's not what I thought the kind of person you were." And thank God she told me that, because I could stand back and look at myself and say, hey, that's exactly what's happening. I am not.....I'm not smelling the roses. I'm just walking through the flowers. And if you can't smell the flowers, then, God, get out of this thing. So, I'm leaving, and I'm still friends with everybody, and I still like it. I've had my rounds with the politicians, and the school politics, and what-have-you, and there's a lot I don't like about what's going on in education, but by the same token, there's another friend of mine in this school system who told me his philosophy, and I find out it's mine, and that's basically what I can influence, I'm going to put my efforts into. What I know I can't influence, in any way, shape, or form, I'm not going to bother with. I'm not going to waste my time I'm just going to have to adjust to it. And as long as I can adjust to it, without compromising anything of my own philosophy or myself, then it's all right to stay in this position. If that should ever happen.....I couldn't do that. Well, then I think it's time to leave. But no, I'm leaving on a happy note, because I'll still smile at you all in June, because I enjoy what I'm doing.
Q: Thank you
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