January 16, 1988
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Q: First we need the basic background. when did you become a teacher?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: You mean when did I start? 1954.
Q: Where you in one school or...
A: No, I spent 3 years at Maury and then 2 years to a private kindergarten and it was co-op. The 50's was a time with a lot of co-ops. I don't know that they're so big now as they were then. Of course that was before the public schools had kindergartens. So I had 2 years in a private school co-op teaching kindergarten and then I went to Oak Ridge with kindergarten and first grade for 9 years total.
Q: So most of your experience was primary.
A: So my experience was primary. Yes, very much primary.
Q: So you taught in several very different situations then.
Q: When did you decide, you taught for 9 years, what made you decide to become a principal?
A: I was in kindergarten and teaching kindergarten did give me some of the freedom to go to school at night and work on a masters which I did in elementary education and found that that background served me very well.
Q: The kindergarten background?
A: No, the elementary education, the masters in elementary education that I had. I took no supervisory, or very little supervision and administration courses at the masters level.
Q: So did you go on and get your doctorate then?
A: Well, when I went I was awarded an internship by Arlington and it was coordinated out of the University of Maryland, and part of the program was that you would work on doctorate at Maryland, and in my case, I had to take the.... the advisor out there just.. well, I had to take supervision and administration, like a lot of it. As I say that extra, extra in elementary ed I felt gave me a depth and a breadth that wasn't there for people who just go right into supervision and administration. I simply had , I guess, more of a background. But anyway to go back to the question you just asked me. I was teaching kindergarten, having a very wonderful experience working on my masters, was always very much into different organizations, was doing a lot with professional organizations, and, I found that I was getting a gap of, what I call, a knowledge gap, in later years I tried to put this out to teachers, because even though I enjoyed the little ones very much, but I really got quite sophisticated because the county... at that time we had a lot of staff development, we worked on, we went out to Maryland on a special math program one that we were supposed to try with these kindergartens we went with a lot ........well, at that time it was in the 60's and had a lot of, you know, wonderful experiences. linguistics, had a lot of what were .... the specialists at that time in linguistics and it was just amazing as far as what we did with linguistics at that time. However I had this body of knowledge which I was applying, and very happily. but I just felt that I guess now you might use the word challenge, that's not exactly it, but the age gap, when you get to a point it's not a challenge ...I think you can see it in your teaching, you know, when anything they say or doesn't surprise you, you tend to bring a veil down over things and so I felt that I needed a change and, you know, it kind of came along, and that's the way education is in that, you know, there's no place to make a change very well, now I'm a deep believer in changing schools although I know that people, that not everyone agrees with that. I'm a deep believer in changing schools, changing levels.
Q: Grade levels teaching?
A: Yes, now I really with my particular subject, and set of skills I really had no place to go, honestly, you know I mean like kindergarten, first grade, that's all I really had ever done and so therefore I didn't have any desire to go up and teach 6th grade or something like that. But I think if people who are new in the field, you know, can make those choices yes, it's much easier, but anyway. and then I had a really, a very wonderful mentor in my principal at Oak Ridge whom I'm sure you've heard of.
Q: A what was his name?
A: Betty Belt, it's a woman she's still there and she, this year was awarded some national or international thing to be in a achievement...
Q: Did you say Bell?
A: Belt. You mean you haven't heard of Oak Ridge and Betty Belt?
Q: I've heard of Oak Ridge, I haven't heard the name associated with it.
A: Betty is unusual in that she's been there, as you can tell, for a very long time, but she recommended me highly for the internship.
Q: So basically you went from teaching into the internship program, and you taught while you were in the internship program?
A: No, no, it was going out to Maryland
Q: And then you got your first principalship
A: And then my first principalship along with again going at night, for your internship, as I told you I had to take quite a bit of supervision and administration, they had a whole list of courses for me, for someone else who had had a masters in it, probably not would have had to do it. But anyway, my first assignment was unique in that we were closing, it was the last year of two schools, Monroe Wilson and they assigned me to Wilson... and the man at Monroe, that's right here in the neighborhood was already designated to be the principal of the new school, Key and these two schools were merging so we.
Q: So Monroe and Wilson were merging?
A: And Wilson was here right above Rosslyn and oh, for many years, I couldn't tell you how many years, but many years, that school had had a large percentage of non-native speakers of English, that staff there at Wilson
Q: So your first job had a major challenge.
A: That staff, they were so good. It was amazing how they had taught themselves how to work with these kids and nothing like all the programs they have now, anyway,
Q: You learned by the seat of your pants?
A: Now Monroe, of course, was more of a typical Arlington neighborhood, it was more like your Barcroft and Claremont and some of your others so pretty much we worked the whole year, in those days we had the privilege of having a couple of elementary supervisors, I was there, the principal was there for the new school, and we worked to try to fit the teachers through staff development into the new Key, you know
Q: So working to combine the 2 communities?
A: See we were working on the, to combine the two communities, and then of course working in the open space 'cause you see Key was the open space school concept.
Q: That's funny because one of my questions down the road is about open schools
A: Well, I have, it's funny I was in all the education planning for the open space school, team teaching. Key I believe was the first and we tried to simulate the classrooms for the teachers during this year of getting ready..
Q: So what year is that 1960...?
A: It was '67-'68. I know exactly what year it was 'cause that was then that was a one year assignment, then I came to ....
Q: That must have been an exciting assignment.
A: Then I went to Woodlawn and Woodlawn at that time was over 50# all black. I shouldn't say all black, 50# black. It had no other, it was not like ESOL, no other, just black and white and it was very shortly after the school had been integrated and it was still a terrible, terrible situation as far as the white, in fact the year before that year some of the white parents had gone to Reed and they were trying to get to Reed and they were trying to make some changes, so anyway, I was given the privilege of going in there with complete selection of staff ..
Q: That is power!
A: It was really a very exciting year. I had two people, the librarian stayed, the reading teacher stayed, the physical education teacher stayed that year , but the rest of the classroom teachers left and that was a very exciting year and I thought that I had a strong staff. Teachers had come from Taylor and different schools to be there it was just, we had a good year. I had interned at two very different schools, Jamestown and Cherrydale, and here again Cherrydale was a school like, it was really a school that was in the hard-core, hard-core Poverty area of Arlington it doesn't, you hear, and I guess in a Way I'm not so sure that it still isn't that way of course it's now being rebuilt, I guess, that area
A: Cherrydale, yes, but at that time it was the hard core poverty. People who'd been on welfare for years and had almost no hope of getting off
Q: Well, when you talk about the integration of Woodlawn was that a matter of recombining the community with kids who were living in the local district or was it a busing situation?
A: Oh, it wasn't a busing situation, but now well, part of it was busing, part of it was, I suspect it had been 3 years ago, and I'm not going to be able to give you a dates exactly on that, but now Arlington tried to integrate. They felt that they were ahead of the state, 'cause you know at one time, you know there was one time the state was in fact I think ...it seems to me that at one point the state sent some National Guard or something up here to Arlington, I've forgotten who sent them, but when Stratford was in the...Stratford was integrated. Reed was a big thing. The state was... Arlington was certainly trying to integrate. The school that was disbanded was the one right up here, Langston, and those kids went to Woodlawn and then some of them were bused down to Cherrydale. Many of them were walkers, to answer your question, because Woodlawn and Langston, there'd been a wall between the 2 communities, but they really were adjacent.
Q: I know it's incredible, it is absolutely incredible there was really a physical wall?
A: A physical wall between those 2 neighborhoods.
Q: And one was essentially all black and the other was essentially all white?
A: Um, hum, they're right up here of Lee Highway and of course the...I've forgotten now what they call it, the community right up here, I don't hear it since I don't work anymore, a very fine, very fine land-owning blacks .who settled Arlington, they were given land, families who owned land and so they were the people who owned their homes and things just like these,....
Q: So we're not talking about poverty...
A: Oh, there were a few apartments. There was a whole bank of apartments. So, no, but when I went to Woodlawn there were very strong feelings.
Q: were you able to staff with an integrated staff, or in an attempt to....
A: No, I mean I could have, but here again in the same things happening now, blacks are not going into teaching and so there really have never been that many blacks down at Cherrydale, at Woodlawn, I'm trying to recall, but no I don't think we had any on the staff.
Q: So in the situation at Key and Woodlawn it sounds like the schoolboard was very supportive of you.
A: Oh, yes, I had a wonderful year, and then, but then a lady who was also one of the outstanding principals in the county was the principal at Reed and she became very ill somewhere around 67 68; didn't complete that year but was ready to come back to work in the spring of 69 and the superintendent, who was Mr. Reed at that time decided I should come down to Cherrydale.
Q: So you spent 1 year...
A: I spent one year there and they created....she was able to come back to work. It was a small school because woodlawn was always a small school, before it was integrated it was a little neighborhood school, never more than 7 or 8 teachers very ingrown, I mean a neighborhood
Q: 7 or 8 teachers? 110/150 students?
A: So when it was integrated it was still about the same, I've forgotten. We had... I've forgotten how many, but it was, we had 1 class at each grade and maybe another class or two with a half or two, you know there were say maybe 8 or 9 teachers but it was not a large school but anyway they asked me to go down to Cherrydale. I had interned there and I was really a little bit frightened of that assignment because now Cherrydale children were just a ...real...
Q: They were a little different from what you were used to?
A: Yes, so anyway they, I'd interned there and the principal at that time was a very outstanding man who had written a proposal and envisioned a proposal using parents as volunteers, and he wrote... and it was really that one who started the big volunteer program in the schools.
Q: What was his name?
A: He teaches at Glen Carlyn now, I'll tell you his name in a minute..if you hadn't asked me right now I would have told you.
Q: I'm sorry.
A: Bud Adler, and he's teaching now at Glen Carlyn. Now he wrote a proposal that he said now, and I just simply listened and I said, when you say something that I don't agree with I'll let you know but I like what you're doing. This is when I was in 67-68 and sent it out into the world and got some state money and I don't think he got any from the school board, and I'm not sure but anyhow, he got some money and then got in, they had 256 volunteers, you've never seen such a program.
Q: That's one volunteer per student, almost.
A: It was really something, he needed it because it was... rough stuff ... to where it was very difficult to have any instruction. And those teachers, they had worked with it for so long and they knew how to cope and they were good there were some excellent people there . you take new people coming in and there was almost no way that they could handle that type of situation, you know, that you have read about. But anyway that was the year I had interned, but by the time I got back from, to serve there, his program, the volunteer program was working.
Q: It was turning things around?
A: It was turning things around. And what I said was that Bud had initiated the program, created it, he implemented it. I just refined it... This county has never had a program as sophisticated as that one was.
Q: What was it like?
A: They never even touched it. Even the other schools I've been in and I've tried.
Q: How was it different from your usual school volunteer program?
A: Well, we truly, well, we... bringing parents in was the same, the volunteers were there and doing the same thing, but there were 12 teachers, maybe 13, that's the size school it was, that's 2 classes per grade, and they had it divided between primary and intermediate and the children truly moved according to ability on the primary cycle and on the intermediate cycle. So that you really did not have a teacher teaching 6th grade students sitting in front of her reading on a first grade level. And there were a couple classes pulled out at each level so that they were like remedial, but we did that from our regular teaching allocation, we did not have the extra help that they have now.
Q: So it was the open concept again?
A: You're right, but in a closed building, It was the most open program I was ever in. In a very closed, in the oldest building in the county
Q: So students were free to move...
A: Well, they were, it was, oh they moved from group to group and physically they moved from building to building, with these changes, it was amazing. anyway, that was truly a program that was for meeting the students needs there. It had some resource people just like you have we had a child development consultant, and of course we had physical education and we had a little music and art, maybe not as much as they have now, but we used every one in the plan, we were just so dedicated to it.
Q: Did the county let you stay there?
A: No, just 2 years.
Q: 2 years?
A: 2 years, and then it closed.
Q: Cherrydale closed?
A: Uh-huh, so then those students went to ('71 I think) those students, of course, then they got ready for that to go up to the new Glebe now we worked on... going to the new Glebe but not as much actual effort as went into the Key,... with a lot of things, we didn't know who...the principal was not selected, because I did not apply for it for some personal reasons at that time and... Bud Adler had left, he was the one who should have gone, because he was the one who had really for me.....
Q: It was really picking the Cherrydale school students.....
A: But he had gone...yes, yes, but that's not true either part of it came out of Woodlawn, but anyway, and then all of woodlawn went and .. did they pick up any of Paige...I don't recall now...but anyway, the new school opened and it's there and as far as I know it's almost had the same principal since it opened, It started with someone else but she been there almost from the beginning.
Q: This may sound like a crazy question. Do you think that the fact that you and Mr. Adler were able to kind of turn Cherrydale around was affected the decision to go ahead and move those kids to Glebe?
A: Oh, no. That was on the drawing board for years that they would go to the new school because the Cherrydale physical plant was a joke, you know, really, it was a joke I mean those .. school it was a beautiful program but the building was in terms of what we were building, and you understand in those days we were building all these new open space schools.
Q: Open spaces.
A: We built Key and Glebe and Henry which they've, all of them they've partitioned up.
Q: Yes, Barcroft has been partitioned up, too.
A: Yes and some of the older ones they remodeled such as Barrett and Barcroft, just the traditional 4 classes upstairs and 4 classes downstairs with a big hall and a big stairway for children and banisters to slide, and wonderful things,
Q: Nice hardwood floors, too?
A: And toilets in the basement and, you know, that was a, no that plant had been scheduled to close and apparently Woodlawn too, I suspect, because it was kind of a small school. That plant is now the hospice and working out very well, and of course the Cherrydale site is the Camelot nursing home. So those plans, no they had nothing to do with educational programs.
Q: The county is moving, I gather, at this point, from smaller schools, 150 students, to larger schools. Where they trying to get to bigger student bodies?
Q: You think it was just upgrading facilities
A: No I don't see the county trying to get into larger schools, really, I think that they... there for a while they had some large schools that didn't have very many students, so some of that, I know that certainly happened at Claremont, you know there was the plant nearby that was way underpopulated so the idea was to move to bring... There was a time when Taylor which is a huge school had literally wings that weren't used. You'd go out there to night meetings and things PTA's ...and there would be chairs and tables, just wings of things that weren't in use . Now that's not the case. They closed Woodlawn and got those and then there is an increase in population in the county, which rather surprises me, it does, because Arlington now seems so...
Q: It's a growth situation.
A: So...so.. yes, that's why some of them merged. A couple of them that I mentioned I was personally involved in had to do with building new schools
Q: And so from Cherrydale you went where?
A: I was at Cherrydale 2 years and then it closed and that was its last year and I'm sure I had the option of standing up and saying I want to be the principal at Glebe and as I say I just didn't , at that time I shied away from that extra responsibility because I knew it was going to be very very challenging. So then I went to Claremont and Claremont had the reputation for being just a very fine, high test scores, and very fine schools.
Q: One of these upper middle class schools?
A: Upper, upper school and they were ...I think they underwent quite a change, certainly, I was there 11 years.
Q: You closed Claremont.
A: Um-hum. I was there 11 years and it was a school like many in Arlington, really, that had a lot of, what did you say, upper middle class kids, you know, very high achieving kids, but then at Claremont they had some for whom equally the social and financial situation was bad, just as Cherrydale, actually there was a big gap, but anyway that was and then of course through the years that I was there when we closed we were 850 all minority.
Q: That had to be a tremendous change. Just fascinating watching the change.
A: Yes, the thing that my feelings, my thought on that is, here again, like the teachers down at Wilson, which had been the county's ESOL, not labeled that, but was their non-native speaking language school for many years, it came so gradually to Claremont that the teachers did one beautiful job of adjusting. When I first went there the reading teacher had, you know, 4 or 5 or 6 that she was taking for special language instruction and so in that 11 year period we had a change but then of course as it changed we had a ...a regular ESOL staff.
Q: You had one reading specialist to a whole staff?
A: we had a regular staff of ESOL. The reading teacher did very little with that population because we had a staff that could handle it. And so, that population changed while I was there.
Q: We talked about your mentors, as you called them, you didn't find any resistance to your being a woman principal? Was it a pretty open field?
A: Here in the county I think so. At the time I became a principal there were literally 50/50. And that balance changed, and then it did change because there was a time, I can't tell you, it must have been some time in the 70's, where they got down to about maybe as few as 5 or 6 women, but then, all of a sudden, you know, like they realized it, and made an appointment of about 4 or 5 because now, I think Nancy was one, I think she might have been one, ...
Q: But you didn't really meet with any resistance?
A: No, but I can tell you something that struck me as funny. In working at the elementary level, and I guess most of the teachers that we've all had are women, so my idea of elementary ed is women, that is my constant. At the first principals' meeting I went to, the big conference, like at the national level, I was thinking, hmmm, I guess we're gonna see a lot of women I rather expected it to be a national elementary principals association I rather expected it to be women. (Laughter) And we went I was traveling with one, on one occasion I was traveling with a supervisor... and we went around to visit and all the states had their open houses and we went to some of them and there wasn't a woman in the whole state! A principal.
Q: So Arlington's really progressive
A: So Arlington's really yes, because when I became a principal there were 26 schools, elementary schools, and we now have like 32, there were about 26 then and it was like 11, whatever is half and half, so like 12 or 13 women and 13 men.
Q: As you like at it now, it still seems, especially on the upper administrative level, the jobs are still mostly men.
A: Yes, well, there was a time, as I told you, when that ratio changed, and I can't tell you when but then the county kind of looked around and said, well, so then they did appoint McKinley, Ashlawn, Barcroft, Abingdon, there were a lot of appointments then.
Q: You were in one school for a long time. you said earlier that you think people should move around. Does that go for principals, too? you were at Claremont for a long time
A: Yes, well we were given an opportunity for location, I mean for rotation, one principal gave me an idea that I stuck with while I was... when I first became a principal, we had a...when schools were different grades, we had P2, P3, P4 depending on the size of the school. SOmewhere along the line in the 70's all schools were rated the same rating. Whether it was P5 or P something, so most of the change in the post would have been from getting a raise. You know, getting a higher rank.
Q: You got paid more for being in a larger school?
A: Yes, like when I went down to Cherrydale that was a much larger school and I went up on the scale. But you see when all the schools were given the same rating and salary then the need to be moving around as far as advancing.
Q: So it was almost as if going to a larger school was a promotion?
A: It was, in fact at one point you see, it was. After they did away with that scale then one of the principals said to me, he was talking about himself and staying in one place a long time, that if you really aren't going to improve yourself, you know, financially, or you don't know what you're getting, you might just as well stay put. So I thought you know that's not a very bad idea and if you're doing well where you are, and you're comfortable, and, you know, feeling like you're making some progress, then no, I did not feel, there, like the job was getting tired or bored with it or anything. That's not why 1 retired. I retired again for personal reasons. I took an early retirement and it was a convenient time. My retirement was then but it was not because I felt I needed a job change. To answer your question, yes, I think that that's the best, I learned in school, that that's the best staff development you could do is to move, because the schools are very different. I mean you think you know all the ropes.
Q: So 5 or 6 years is probably the ideal?
A: Yes, in the classroom I'd say 5 and I would think 4 or 5 as a principal.
Q: It gives you a chance to make an impact?
Q: We talked about the community at Claremont was upper middle basically?
A: It was, you see, at one point, but I wouldn't now want to make any kind of a judgement on what it is now that they still have, you know, they have, they have, well I can give you this figure, from going around to the different classrooms about the first year I was there I would ask how many students had been at Claremont since first grade and it was about 50/50. About 50# of the kids were very stable and were at that school for 6 years. And then the other 50# were just in and out, now I'm sure that that ratio, I could not have done that particular ... but you see, I'm sure that that number lessened in the 11 years. Fewer kids who went in at kindergarten first grade who were still there in 6th grade.
Q: So it became more transient?
Q: So the community changes. A large influx of Black? Southeast Asian? or just low income?
A: Claremont was I imagine like Barcroft, everything, we had mostly, at that point we were about 350 orientals, very few from the middle eastern countries, but some, 120 or so Hispanics, 12-150 Hispanics, and then whatever was left 25-30 or whatever number would equal 850, you know, it changed, you can't say that figure was rigid, approximately black. Of course, you realize that 10# black went out on the bus to all over the county. That number for Claremont, and I think for other schools too, had been dropping, like we didn't have 10# who came in from Drew in our area. But they were in the neighborhood and that was a change...at 1 time ... I ... such high tension...when they...that year that Drew integrated...and then every school got 10 of its population.
Q: That was the year that they started the alternative school
A: Uh-hum, I didn't realize it, I mean I realized I had worked at woodlawn, Cherrydale, and I didn't realize, I wasn't aware at the time of the tension. Those kids were so anxious.
Q: The kids from Drew?
A: The kids from Drew. The bus, they'd never ridden a bus to school before so the anxiety level was very high
Q: '71 was the start of the alternative schools?
Q: That was my next question, was there any one year in that tenure at Claremont that seemed to have a major change?
A: That year was, see that was my first year there and I of course had come from such an entirely different background, working at Cherrydale and woodlawn, that I did not appreciate fully, I'm sure, the tension and the apprehension, and just plain fear on the part of staff, because they had not worked at all with black kids.
Q: So Claremont was largely white.
A: Oh, yes, had a few, well the year I went there just prior to the integration movement-l black child.
Q: So '71 is the alternative schools and essentially the integration of a large number of the elementary schools ?
A: Yes, yes the only ones that got any ...I suppose were Woodlawn and Cherrydale, because they closed Langston and bused them to the nearest school which had ...and some went to Reed, I'm not sure, I think a few went to Reed.
Q: So the major community relations problems the first year you were there were just getting the community to act as a community or what?
A: It was interesting, well the kids were.. I recognized their behavior, a lot of it, as anxiety but I didn't feel it as much. I wasn't aware of it until later, you know,..because truly they were simply scared the bus wouldn't come. They had always walked to school.
Q: Basic childhood fears?
A: And their parents they didn't understand at all why they couldn't walk right down to the neighborhood school to go to school. Why they had to get on a bus to go to school. Really real fears and questions and unhappiness at that time. And that wasn't just Claremont we got along better overall than I would say almost any school because we were close, you see so therefore I could run them home if they missed the bus the parents could come in, and it wasn't so far away. We had closeness. I really can't imagine what it was like at Jamestown and Nottingham and these schools where they have to go all the way across the county .
Q: So at a PTA meeting, would Drew parents show up?
A: Always some, yes. There was a group, and I'm sure that's true of almost every PTA meeting that's ever run. We always had a few but they really truly many of them were not, you know, they couldn't drive and they didn't have cars to drive and this was true in the other neighborhoods too. But in later years when people began walking, they came into the neighborhood and bought houses and all the ESOL kids. They didn't come because of Langley. We did many. many things to involve parents, ESOL people. We always had interpreters, rarely did we ever have a meeting where we didn't have an interpreter and separate groups and we got more sophisticated as the county provided more staff. We had a center at Kenmore and we could call and get interpreters.
Q: So your first job at Claremont is dealing with the integration and then the ESOL population comes, what, 5 years later?
A: No, gradually, it just came along.
Q: There wasn't any big year where there was a difference?
A: No, not after the first year of integration. And as I say that was my first year there so I really did not, I wasn't so aware of some of the tensions.
Q: So '71 was a real turn-around for the county. Did some of your fellow administrators have a lot more problems that you know of?
A: Oh, I'm sure of it, they tell of a story, she's gone now, of the lady up at Jamestown, who had never had any discipline problems really, I mean anything that you just didn't call the parent and the parent would come and get the child ... They said that one afternoon, she kept getting reports of fighting on the bus and what she said that afternoon was "well, I'll ride on the school bus." (laughter)
Q: Well, that's one answer to the problem.
A: "I'll ride on the school bus" and they just started fighting and she just kind of slid under the seat. There's no way that lady could have stopped that fighting. She was a little lady but you see that may or may not even be true. The thing is that they had to ride so far, you know they got into trouble.
Q: 45 minute rides?
A: well, sure
Q: Barcroft now has a black majority in an attempt to reduce the length of time the kids are on the buses.
A: That plan was even being talked about the year I retired. I wouldn't want to make a judgement on it, but it was awfully hard on those children coming over across the county. So we were close, and so if we had a child who was sick and whose parents couldn't it wasn't any big thing to go and take them home
Q: So you probably had the easiest time?
A: Probably, I felt so
Q: When you first got to Claremont, one of the things they talk about in administration programs in the difference between and instructional leader and a managerial role. What was your role mostly? Or was it a pretty good mix?
A: I would say a mix, really, I mean I was stronger in instruction, primarily, leadership, I saw, I saw my role in leadership as trying to make the best use of resources and that type of ... scheduling, and not necessarily... but scheduling persons to get the most out of the resource people and to make the greatest impact and getting people to work together to do this or that together and making other changes. I'm not sure, that's either instructional or managerial because I see managerial as doing just like the building plant manager, making sure everythings going along, like the buses on schedule ...
Q: That was really your job, too, wasn't it.
A: All of it is, in a way, but there again Arlington has excellent help over at the maintenance plant and there was always someone, at least when I was in the county, there was always someone you could count on, there was always someone the principal was just, kind of, the middle man, there was always someone you could just report it to, who you could call on for assistance, lot's of help.
Q: But you didn't usually, at least you never had an assistant principal?
A: No, never, at one time we really needed one, because at one time there was 475 and we didn't have anything like they have now, we didn't have the CDC's and the extra help that they have now.
Q: what's a CDC?
A: That's a, they're putting them in the schools now, that's a child development consultant. But now they're calling them ...
Q: Guidance counselors?
A: I don't know, they might be calling them guidance counselors. They're bringing the program in, back in to the county. They're not calling it this, it has a new label. I don't remember...I heard it mentioned...
Q: Is it like a school psychologist role?
A: Well, again it was combining all the fields and this person was supposed to work with the visiting teacher and the nurse, the psychologist and the principal as a team, as a coordinator of services, the... psychological and mental and extras.
Q: Did the county give you much freedom in actual curriculum development besides choosing some basals?
A: Yes, and I retired it was really the first year that I felt, and I really wasn't a part of it, that we were coming to, that we had one reading series. When I was there we were just getting ready to adopt Ginn countywide.
Q: It was the first year?
A: It was the first year, again we always had many, multiple purchases and multiple materials were our big thing.
Q: Did you have a curriculum guide you were supposed to be following and did you have the freedom to choose your own text. So you had to deal with publishers directly?
A: No, as I just told you, at one time we had 9 (I'm not sure that's the total number) 9 elementary supervisors and they had a leader and during my years in the county a lot of instructional help. And this idea of having one textbook, that was something else, and I think part of it has come from the state.
Q: I just find that fascinating, because that has been the system for so long, and many teachers don't like it.
A: Arlington teachers have always had a lot of choice and a lot of support. Remember, I cannot tell you what it is right now, keep that in mind because as I say they had just adopted that Ginn county-wide just as I retired. I have no idea how the reading program is going with one adoption, no idea. I don't want to give you any impression that I do. No, we went with the idea of many materials and of course when Glebe opened up they opened up with the individualized program where they would shoot some paper into the computer. Arlington has tried many, many things.
Q: Would you say Arlington has tried to be on the forefront of change?
A: They tried to be, and I think has to a degree, maybe to a large degree.
Q: Do you believe there has been too much change? Did you get new programs so often that you couldn't handle them?
A: Here when you say instructional leader, this is partly what I saw as my role. This is how I would define instructional leader. We were alWays having lots of things these supervisors, they always had their program and their projects that's what their job is, but no, as the principal I was wary that we took on this or this or I would say we are doing this, we're not doing going to touch that.
Q: But the county gave you the freedom to make those kinds of choices?
A: Yes. Yes.
Q: So you could really adapt your program to the needs of the community
A: Yes, or the supervisors would come in with whatever they wanted and the staff would say too what they wanted. But if I were given, sometimes they would throw these things out over the summer, and ask if you would volunteer or not volunteer, I was always very careful not to get too many things going, not to overload my staff. I tried, now it's very difficult, as I'm sure you know 'cause there's just so much to do. I mean there's always a million things out there but I really did try to chose whatever special things we were doing.
Q: To choose them carefully?
A: Um-hum. We really worked hard and I had an excellent staff.
Q: The set-up at Claremont was closed or open?
A: It was closed but, it was almost my first experience with one teacher in a class teaching, now I started that way you understand, but what we did in the other schools I've been in with the open space situation.
Q: Did you attempt to use an open space idea ?
A: We did, we did, we tried, it just didn't. And then of course other pressures, like in ( I don't know exactly what year it was) it would have to be the early 70's, the teacher's union was a tremendous impact on what they did and what they didn't do so that curbed some of the things, and I've forgotten what it was you asked about, oh, trying to change and have an open classroom. You see you can have an open setting and closed classrooms for your courses but I had to adjust to one teacher in one classroom. They did, we tried that when I went there. The upper grades were doing what I call departmentalization.
Q: One teacher was teaching one area?
A: Yes, They were moving and I didn't care much for that. It seemed to me they were just kind of moving the kids around all day. And so we worked on that and got that straightened out.
Q: So that was a major change.
A: So we tried a little, we tried different things basically it was still what you would call self-contained. It was very difficult to schedule the really truly team-teaching situation
Q: Do you think the physical plant was the reason it didn't work or was it the community or teachers?
A: No, the teachers, the teachers, they had been doing it that way for a long time and they certainly had lots of evidence that the open class, all around them, they were hearing from all over the county the Key wasn't doing too well and Glebe wasn't. At least when they first started. That they were closing classes and things so they were getting... they had lots of reinforcement.
Q: For not moving towards an open setting.
A: Lots' of reinforcement.
Q: So, you really saw the open classroom come and go in your tenure as a principal?
Q: It didn't last very long did it?
A: I still say that it takes some rather special people.
Q: The only school left in the county that is really truly open is Drew, and that brings us to the alternative schools, which came about with the integration. What was the reaction of the county at the time to creating those "model schools", if you will?
A: Well that, of course, was a misnomer, because you see ...
Q: Alternative schools?
A: Yes, well they called it the model school, cause they didn't give them the extra, as far as I know, they didn't give them extra staff or extra resources and they really needed staff to do, ... I really know so little about Drew and Paige and, what was the other one? H-H Woodlawn?
Q: H-B Woodlawn.
A: That I don't know, I just, as far as I know they've just ... got a slow start on the way.
Q: And Drew has had its problems over the years.
A: Sure it has because it takes a special staff to run an open school.
Q: Have you ever had a chance to think about that whole concept of alternative schools on the elementary level? Do you like the idea? Dislike the idea ? Do you think it's good for the school system?
A: I don't know. I really haven't, I mean I honestly haven't thought about it. I just, I accepted it as Arlington does try to meet the needs and I do believe there was a constituency that really put pressure on to get these, the variety in the schools... and just a matter of trying to put something out there to give people choices. As far as I know, I've don't know that I've ever read or seen anywhere and evaluation or really hadn't heard much. You can see that they've continued so they must be meeting some success.
Q: So you weren't necessarily negative on them?
Q: I've heard people say that it is essentially creating a private school system.
A: Yes, I heard that too, but, I don't now, I really honestly couldn't say it is or it isn't.
Q: But they did serve their function initially which was to integrate the schools?
A: Well, Drew did, now I don't know about Paige...
Q: If you had to go back, would you go back to an open school or a closed situation?
A: I'm not sure that's a fair question because... I'm not sure. I've always thought..I would like to try the open... I wouldn't say I have any regrets about not trying to go up to Glebe, but I really did take myself right out of that race.
Q: I guess if they had given you the freedom that they gave you in your first job.
A: They would have, they would have, but I really had some things going on here that, you know I just felt that I didn't, couldn't do it, couldn't do a good job, and that was, as I say it was strictly me. As far as that school, yes, I would rather have worked in a school that had the potential for a little movement than just...
Q: Do you think its potentially better for kids?
A: No, it's open, as you hear, and as you'll hear in your courses was structure. when I first came to this county, and I don't want to be talking on too much longer. When I first came in this county I came in on what I call a... the end of... what we call, and I was very fortunate in that I believe, of what they call a real permissive age. When I went to work in that co-op I never... I mean that was really. You wouldn't believe, you wouldn't believe the permissiveness. I mean parents at that point believed that it was O.K. for kids to stand and pour water on the floor and, I mean, I could tell you, and stand and break their crayons up and throw them all around and I went into homes and they were overwhelming with expensive toys and things and kids jumping on the bed, and toys just, and, you know, public schools, I came in on the end of that. There were a few teachers in Arlington who were trying to do that. And some funny, funny... so, actually, I came in when you were supposed to have structure and discipline and you were supposed to have organization. But when people interpret open to be, you're just going to go on about there doing their paper, and they don't want to do this paper now, they choose to do that paper now, then you don't have anything...
Q: To be open means to have more structure that the traditional classroom?
A: Every detail has to be worked out, an area where every kid's going to be at a certain time. I've seen some of it demonstrated in different..Jamestown had it ...there were some really good situations, but they don't last long, things, change, but too, for a staff to put that much into it all the time it's just... draining
Q: what was the hardest thing you faced as a principal? You closed 3 schools.
A: I suspect maybe the timing had something to do with it, but I expect closing Claremont was the most difficult since that was the only one that closed, not going on a new, whole new situation. Not that they were going into a new building for them, that would have air conditioning, a gym...at the same time it was an excellent program there...
Q: The community was very supportive and very upset...
A: Oh, yes, they were ready for it. They recognized that hopefully it would be a good move for them. And, but I suspect that was a very difficult move even though I was retiring. Of course the usual things that were difficult were the kids that didn't get home safely, you worried about the kids and those things... the usual problems somebody'd gotten...it's very, very frustrating to handle problems that happen out on the street and there were sometimes when you wouldn't even be responsible or there wouldn't be a thing we could do. At the same time it came to the school.
Q: Things the children did outside of school came to the school.
A: It came to the school...to look for solutions.
Q: Is there any one incident in particular that stands out in your mind?
A: Oh, no , but children being hit or assaulted on the way home from school. That the school's responsible for, when they're out playing later after school or something and things happen then they come back to the school.
Q: Talking about hard decisions, did you ever have to deal with a firing?
A: Well, yes, but again I had a lot of help ...through the supervisors..but I was in the classroom and as a principal, we had a lot of central administration so there were always two of us so it wasn't...and then I was on the older...on the group again that was kind of in the middle of seeing change and some of our really fine principals, years ago...they tried to do it more by helping, by career guidance type of things than they do now when they come in and they actually evaluate you, and you, know, it worked maybe not always, but it ...but it would help a person to see that maybe teaching was not for them .. encourage people to do things, you know, without ...if they had to they would evaluate in specific terms but generally we didn't have the evaluation system you have now...there was a principal the other day saying that now, of course, when they're hired..of course, I do believe that great care should be taken in the schools, in the training schools and of course, when you hire, I understand I heard a principal say the other day that now with Arlington hiring they're being pretty specific, if you don't do this and this and this, you're going to go out.
Q: The state has the system.
A: Yes, so you see things are much...there are many many more systems than there were when I had to do it.
Q: But you didn't have a formal proscribed evaluation system?
A: Oh, sure, oh yes indeed
Q: What was it like?
A: It wasn't unlike the one that we have now except that the one now, I think that one called for just one evaluation, but any principal, and these ladies I'm talking about are good, they'd be in that classroom probably more, than a principal who knows they're just going to make four visits. You, understand, they were in there working so to say it's..no...we've always had...visits and we've always had where the principal had to write up an end of the year evaluation and rate a teacher ..now we haven't always had as many, sometimes it's just been satisfactory, unsatisfactory, sometimes we had a career ladder, I mean its changed, but, oh no, there was always a system .
Q: Did Arlington ever play with a merit pay system?
A: They had a career, they called it career. I can't remember what else they called it...but it was another, another...the pay did not go along with it. It was kind of an honorary and of course every teacher, just like the outstanding they have now, everybody thought they should be outstanding and that's something you could argue because if you're in the classroom doing the job, you know, things are moving along,
Q: Then you're doing the job and you're doing it well?
A: You're doing it.
Q: What do you think makes a good teacher?
A: I expect...I'm sure, it's a skill you can learn but I.. you have to want to do it. Let me just use my husband here as an example, from the time he was 6 years old he knew he wanted to be a doctor his family had the money to send him, that was not a problem but how in the world he ever got into his head he wanted to be a doctor they didn't know, no one did. He is 83 years old right now and a patient was in this house this morning. They just can't seem to keep him out of the practice of medicine. Because he loved it, it was the only thing he could do. So I'm not going to say there aren't people who could be teachers. They just have to... they want to be teachers, they enjoy it .. its what they want to do. They do well in those courses. Like he could never pass any other courses.. The only courses he could pass were science, chemistry and a lot of stuff about ....His Papers they were always the model papers for a chemistry exam, can you imagine.
Q: It's frightening.
A: Yes, yes, and he just got it, and he really truly had an outstanding career and he was ...he just simply had something that many of the doctors do not have and it has to be the same way with education or acting or any other field ...
Q: So what you're saying to me is that it just can't be a job...
A: You have to want to do it .... I would say it, there again the word I'm using is motivation, wanting to, and that motivation. you can be motivated by different things. we have a lot of daughters whose mothers were teachers. Or maybe another teacher made someone say "I want to be a teacher " and what makes you want to be a teacher ... and to say every teacher out there has that...I think it's a combination. When I first came in the county, then we were hiring people with B.A. degrees and not a teaching class not a teaching course, they were just glad enough to get people with B.A.'s or whatever, 'cause they did want them to have degrees.
Q: That's one of the controversies now is whether people should be education majors or majors in their field. Do you have an opinion on that topic?
A: No, I've always just kind of said that they must have the union card, which means certain credentials, just like when you go out and practice medicine without passing all the exams and things that have to do with ... I believe it's the same thing with a teacher, they can't go out without having all the um....
Q: The basic education courses?
A: They must have their content area.
Q: What about a good principal?
Q: What made you a good principal, you obviously were? Nancy King speaks very highly of you.
A: I don't know...there's no question that I was. I'm not sure everyone else thought I was but I thought....well, communication skills, I was always rather, I thought...well, the younger people though, like Nancy, have a much higher level of communication skill than I ever. Communication skills are essential, but you see they're essential in other fields too like management, so I think any high level of communication skills are essential. Now we of course were given a general, now our idea was...I was trained to have a broad base. We were given a very broad base and I would say that in education you really do need not to zero in too fast, you need to keep a broad base of courses, of courses, that's what I'm talking about.
Q: So you feel like the training you had during the internship...
A: Not the internship but the ..my undergraduate work ..was a broad general base.. I did not zero in on education right away. Then I went and got the elementary and the master's and then I went into supervision and administration but I'm not so sure supervision..I'm not so sure supervision ..that a lot of supervision and administration is learned from doing it or from a model like in the internships...see I worked with another principal
Q: So you feel that's important?
A: Hm...I think it's..yes...I wouldn't say no courses, but I'm not sure the courses are where you get the feel for the job and I think the same things true in teaching you've got to get out there and do it ..but you don't have much written down there.
Q: Yes, I've got the tape, I stopped taking notes because I was getting interested in what you were saying...no, I do agree with you ..
A: How many more questions?
Q: we're almost done, we're almost done
A: All right, all right
Q: This is the required question? Do you have a personal philosophy of education?
A: Yes, we had a..that was drilled in to us, but I'm not sure that I can put it in to any words but we were...it was...to..it's funny it's something that's a part of you, it can be hard to express but it's..our philosophy..that we took out into the world was to be ..to reach every child, know where they were, test them, and...work with them until we knew where they were and take each child as far as we could take them and that was with respect to grade level or..very strong on individualization of instruction and self-actualization, very, very strong on that...achieve with each child just as high as you could during the year...and that went into our nervous system....we took that into the classroom with us...and then not just in basic skills, you know, music and everything, of course, in my time in education, we really didn't get into value instruction and we didn't get into...music and art and the cultural aspect of human beings. we got into ...we didn't do much with government and things that I think perhaps we should when you see what's happening right know, I'm wondering where the schools have been...we never taught much in the Way of government or geography or things like that ...reading math science ...even though they say we didn't ...at least in the situations I've been in, we did a pretty good job with science but as far as helping kids understand..I guess what I'm saying is their democracy ...and their role in society ...I don't think we touched on that at all..now maybe it was the age ..elementary perspective and maybe, we did it, but you know, they were elementary kids so there wasn't much evidence of it...
Q: Well, you talk about values education, did you do anything in the way of sex ed ?
A: No, I had a teacher at Clar....I had a teacher at ...this is funny...I had a teacher at Cherrydale in whatever year '69-'70 in the third grade who had some rather graphic pictures and had a whole curriculum ..she'd come from New York or someplace and she was just merrily teaching and right on and ...it was awfully hard, you know, to have her not do it because, one, she really felt committed to it and...second, but you know, she had parents who were just, you know, no...Virginia has been, just...you don't touch anything like that.
Q: The high schools in Arlington are very progressive on that.
A: Well, it's better now, they better be ..really because, but I have to laugh at how it changed or how it is changing
Q: Did you ever have to deal with a drug problem?
A: We always had some with the older ones but nothing much
Q: With 6th graders and things?
A: Um-hum...and some who went on to intermediate school probably would have had some problems but..no we really...it was limited at the elementary level. We did the best...we had drug...we had of course cigarette smoking.. when I first went to Claremont we had a lot of kids who were smoking ..now, you understand, surreptitiously, (laughter) you'd look over on the playground and you'd see these billows of smoke come up...we managed to handle that but they were typical, you know, ...things but we did a lot on smoking, not so much on alcohol, because it wasn't seen as a problem like it is now, with elementary now the high schools had always done it...drug abuse and alcohol, but elementary school we didn't have the problem with things like that. We had a little bit of drugs ..but not so we could...really identify it or pin the kid or...just.. we worked an awful lot with our...youth resource officer and he'd come in
Q: So they only thing you would have added to your curriculum at that point, well, I hate to use the term, is some kind of "values clarification"
A: No, I wouldn't say that because we had...there were times we had a value...a value course of study...but that never...that was always very difficult to fit in ...sometimes these extra people I told you about, these CBC people, would go around from classroom to classroom and do values instruction and I doubt very seriously if something like that would make much of an impact. I've had teachers who literally, when there'd been a ...some kind of an altercation on the playground, come in like for the next 30 minutes discuss how come, and you know Why it happened, and all that when, in my opinion, that teacher would have been much better advised to come in and get the kids busy....and...
Q: And perhaps deal with it later on?
A: And maybe take one of them and deal with the kids involved rather than sit and have the whole class discuss what happened...and teachers who did that...they thought, they called their teaching values...but you have a whole class sit for even 30...I might be exaggerating ..even a few minutes..unless it has gotten to be more.....it's better...I've had other teachers who were very good about just getting everybody settled down and getting them to work and then take the ones that got in trouble out and talk to them or...
Q: This is not a terrible question. Did you think you had enough time to teach everything?
A: No, you couldn't that's why I say...hidden and values and...of course we keep saying it and yet, right now, I would say almost it's...it's...I wouldn't know where to go what with values now because we're such a diverse population...and every one of our different groups has a different value...and then most people just know the line...I don't know...you're...just not teaching values...and that's really where it has to come...you and your husband have to agree and never change...
Q: That's quite a job
A: And you see that takes a while to do that, and by somebody just pulling out a book and doing a values lesson once a week or something like that ... I don't want to hear it any more.
Q: You don't want a copy of the tape? What do you miss most? Anything?
A: Well, as I said, no...I had to...I had personal things here that I felt the time had come that I had to retire so therefore I'm too busy to miss anything really...I can't honestly say I miss it power, but I really. in my case it's not typical...because I really, and there are many others in the same boat ...I took an early retirement and so it's different with me than it was with someone who worked their years and really wanted to work on and on and then they would miss something but I felt I had to retire because I had some things going on that I needed to take care of
Q: It was really a conscious decision...
A: It was a conscious decision to leave and I felt I just had other things I had to do so it's not a matter of missing them.
Q: Do you have "words of wisdom" (that's a terrible expression)?
Q: Did you enjoy it?
A: Yes, yes I did, in retrospect, now I liked ...and I really did enjoy working in Arlington...it's a very privileged place to work learned a lot..as I mentioned earlier, we had a lot of staff development, really good staff development. I remember one point when we went to a meeting and there were teachers too.....
Q: was there ever a point when you felt like they weren't behind you ?
A: No, no, never.
Q: So you were working in a supportive environment.
A: That's right
Q: Sounds like you had the best.
A: Um-hum, I think I had,...yes...and I don't think that's...I really don't think that's changed and here I'm speaking where I don't know much But I don't think that's changed ...if a person's working now feels.. I think it's more a perception than people working,... education and society might have changed but I don't feel like the Arlington Public School system has changed.
Q: If you were to go back today, would you have one thing you really wanted to do?
A: No..really...no...other than to provide the best...are you assuming I would go back in a principalship? Is that what you are assuming?
Q: Maybe you would prefer to be a teacher?
A: No, I prefer to be a principal... and just again...to know the learning first...to know the situation and see what the staff and sure what Nancy's trying to do over at Barcroft and many others.
Q: You may not believe this, but I want to thank you a lot for this. It's been absolutely fascinating. It's so different from my experiences. I teach in a school with 850 students.
A: that's a little large...
Q: well, for Fairfax County it's not. I can't thank you enough for giving me 2 hours of your time. I really do appreciate it.
A: Well, don't hold anything against me...
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