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Q: As Principal and Area Superintendent, what was your defined role versus your actual operational role ?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: Not to make it over simplified, but literally, starting with the Principal, my role was what one expects, to be head, or managing member of a staff of a school. I will talk mostly about a large school, because a teaching principal is really more of a teacher than a principal. As anyone knows who has done it. If you can teach a class you can do that and do the other on the side. As a principal you were simply a staff manager and director. That was with a programwith which to run a school. Of course, as an Area Superintendent, you were in charge of one fourth of the schools approximately in the county which comprised that area. For that group you were the overall Superintendent and General Manager. The similarity almost stops there because , in the area of Fairfax County that I was Area Superintendent for, it was larger than probably any other school division in Virginia. Fairfax County is much larger than any other. So I believe at that time or even now, that they are probably bigger, one area is bigger than any other county in Virginia numerically, not geographically in terms of schools and people. So that was somewhat like a Superintendent. You were generally in charge of operations, seeing that the schools are staffed, that they are run, and that all the services are provided and that we evaluate and maintain a high quality of performance to do the jobs that schools are supposed to do.
Q: As to the selection of your staff, were you given people to interview ?
A: In that case I can make a quick answer to that. It just might vary with with some school divisions, but in Fairfax County, even as large as we were, we did not have the full personnel responsibility and for a good reason. Because personnelis quite a complicated thing and besides, we have hundreds of applications that you are not going to employ and the Area simply just did not have that much time or that many resources, so one Personnel Department did the general personnel work. When we needed people to replace or to fill new positions then they would have been screened and identified as being qualified basically; so our part would be not to find, recruit, and evaluate, but to simply select and screen the last individuals, two or three individuals who had been found for the position. So the final selection was the last minute se- lection and from that point, once we recommended our choice then Personnel took care of all the rest of the legal, contracting, which is still very complex today. So we had the part that mattered most to us, which was the last word about who is going to do a job we have. That worked fine because it did not take that long and because we did not have that many positions to fill. Which is saying that our operational responsibilities were bigger than such things as staffing and more pervasive, because we were always responsible for whether those schools were opening, running, doing what they were supposed to do; transportation, services, activities, communications, the whole thing that is going on all the time. That is what claimed our time a minimum amount that would have been taken up in selecting personnel by having the main work being done by the county's Personnel department.
Q: Did you have, when you were interviewed, the persons they sent over for selection, the staff involved as they do today in some of the systems ?
A: They probably were, depending upon the position. I hasten to say now, this may have changed , but I doubt it. Regular teaching positions you normally would not even see, you would simply accept their assignment. The principal instead, in the school where the person was going would have a chance which we much preferred. For instance, if you were filling a third grade position in X school, and it is a very prominent teacher and she is gone, once the personnel department says I got three teachers here, all of whom are qualified, there are two that the principal has the last word to say I recommend A over B. Which I recommend and prefer that if I had been principal or as I was , because she / he is in a better position to say what is expected of he and what is done. That kept the operation to a minimum, but yet hitting on the critical part. Staff person for instance, if we are bringing in a person to add to one of his staff like a Specialist in one of the fields like Art, Music, or P.E. , we of course would like the person to have something to do with that. Basically, since those people are Specialist and not Administrative Assistants, they have a minimum to do with selecting the person who is going to work even with them. They are interested in carrying out the program, they are not administering anything like a Principal or Assistant Principal.
Q: How long were you a Principal ?
A: In my experience I started out being a principal of a one room school and believe it or not I treasure that experience. It was one of the best experiences of my entire educational life. During the Depression it was the only job I could get near where I lived. You could not make enough money away from home if you could get a job. But fortunately I taught. The school was large enough so they took part of the students away, so I had only grades one through four, which gave me a chance to teach primary which I had many times to use when asked by primary teachers "how do you know hoe to do that? " I will tell you why I know how to do that. The feeling of a one-room school was wonderful. I laughed when I got the contract. It said Principal and teacher grades one through seven. I did not know that I was going to be called Principal of a one room school. That was my first experience. After that, I was teaching Principal of a larger elementary school, but I still taught at least one or two grades. Then I was learning teaching. It was largely teaching and management. Then I was a Principal for five years of a large, I would say about twenty-two teachers, elementary school in the city, grades one through six. There you had the full opportunity to be manager, supervisor, director of activities, the whole bit. That was a great experience in a very old school. In Danville, in the city where it was very different. The others had been rural and in direct contrast. Small rural to large city school with a concentration of lower middle class working people. It was the Depression I hasten to add. It seemed like a depression for me when I went to college and when I got out too. This was a very valuable time to work, very important time to work.
Q: Which job position do you feel you were the most effective in ?
A: It is much easier to say in terms of the Principalship. I was just as cocky as I could be about the principalship. Of course I also knew I was a good teacher. The public always thought that men teachers were good teachers. They somehow thought they could do better. Oddly enough, if I wrote , I would write a book and declare that not only were elementary men teachers not better generally, but they were not nearly as good in discipline. The youngsters were good. We had standard test and everything to back them up and yet, this was a very rural area, Northern Pittsylvania County. I do not think we had a college parent in in the whole crowd. But these kids were fantastic and very productive , and very energetic, and liked to work. They just liked to work. Big kids, but in terms of no disciplinary problems, no suspensions, nothing of that. Although, one teacher as principal had been run away from that school two years before. They could not keep her because she could not manage the discipline and they had to take her principalship away. But there was not any problems because teaching is what did it. I did not do anything but teach my groups and the other teachers taught theirs. They were all doing a good job. So I think I was effective in that. In the larger school, I was only in my mid twenties though, when I went into a city school where only two teachers in the twenty-two were younger than I . Being a man there that was stereotyped, served some purposes. It did not give me any skills or anything like that. But I was succeeding a very venerating woman. She died of cancer after I had been sent there as an acting principal. Then I was only twenty six and had to deal with the aura of her sainthood first. And someone said, "if you had not been a man, " I might not have made it. Because there were teachers who almost crossed themselves when they called her name. She was a lovely, saintly woman who also loved children and got along beautifully. The school was a good, sound, academic school in a lower socio economic area. But we really woke it up and did many, many more things than we had ever done. I was there for about four and a half years until I went into World War II. It was a delightful experience. Truthful, I am not bragging, do not mind to, but I do not have but such things to say, but after I became an Area Superintendent of one of the largest school systems in Virginia. I enjoyed that working because I was Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum for more years than I was Area Superintendent. We had not even started the area business. So I was Assistant Superintendent, the first they ever had. We planned all kinds of curriculum, published pages and pages of productions. We changed from that after we created the Area Plan. For me, the choiciest job in the whole school spectrum was the elementary principalship. The high school and the larger principalships are managerial entirely. I knew what was going on and participated.
Q: Did you feel that your concept about / of education changed any after your service ?
A: After the service, no. I do not think so. Everything else changed though. One of the biggest changes I see-- I do not feel that we got out of the Depression until we got into World War II. I went into the Army in 1941. We were just getting out of the Depression. You would not believe the 8 salaries. Here I was principal of a large elementary school; I had a teaching staff of twenty-two, twenty- three , and we had the cafeteria people, custodial, and all like that, a part-time secretary. My salary had not yet gotten to two thousand dollars when I went in. It was not a great deal more when I came back. but I did not stay long. I think the World War II experience was invaluable. I think everything sort of expanded. I think we all woke up a great deal.
Q: Did you apply to be Principal or did they seek you out as they do some teachers ?
A: Yes I did. I applied to become Principal in the city even though I had not taught there. You see, going from the rural to the city you did that for two reasons. One, I lived forty miles from home in this county in Danville; two, the city had all the other advantages, places to live and all like that, plus the fact they paid much better salaries. So I applied. It was an up for me to go from a small rural area to a city. The whole system did not have but ten elementary schools and had no vacancies so I said I would take a teaching job. I took a teaching job and liked teaching sixth grade, thinking I might get in line for Principalship and had no idea it would come so soon. At the end of the first semester this principal was ill so he asked me if I would come down and be acting principal. It gave me a chance to be acting principal for that year. I was delighted. I did seek the principalship. Meantime, at that I had just started graduate program in Educational Administration at the University of Virginia which was useful. I did it all from then on in the summers. I was not singled out. Again, I think they had certain prejudices often that men would be better principals, especially in a community where they had a lot of boys and thought of discipline. They assumed again the fallacy that men were better in handling discipline which was not true of principals any more than teachers.
Q: What about the appraisal process ? Once you were in those positions, how did they go about evaluating your performance ?
A: In a city like Danville, where you did not have so many people I do not know. Because after I came out of World War II I was a General Supervisor and they wanted to give me that job. I had followed a woman who had been very outstanding, but she left and got a job in something big. I did not want to be. I had been a principal half a year and they had not filled the job and they asked me would I take it. I did not want the job of appraising teachers, evaluating teachers , for the simple reason that the role of Supervision as we saw it there was to help teachers overcome their problems or introduce new ideas or help evaluate or understand children or improve their skills. 10 We did not think the person who does that should be the person who decides whether this teacher gets to, is good, or how good, or whether she goes or stays. We did not think that. If we had been asked by the Superintendent , or if I had been asked to discuss it, then I would say something general, like she is not the most effective teacher, I think she has potential, or she is really a whiz or she is very effective. The teachers knew that I filled out no checklist about them at all. How was I evaluated ? . It was simply by observation and contact. In a system that was not so big you see, you did not have but a Superintendent, and two or three people in the Central office so it was through direct contact. I am sure that he picked up alot from the principals because you were.seeing your principals everyday. It was probably better than it was in a large system. The informal contact, give or take once a week, short meetings, a coffee here and there after school to talk, those informal contacts were very valuable to evaluate. Plus you had reports to do and things to send to the State. You had to produce materials, write memos, and you had those kinds of tangible things to look at. It was not a highly structured evaluation. It was easier in a system of small or medium size than it is in a very large system.
Q: How about when you were Area Superintendent ? Were you involved in any evaluations using a checklist ?
A: They have changed the procedure since. Then she relied primarily on the very simple evaluation. The checklist, that the principals did. Again I worked to see that the Supervisors and Curriculum Spe cialist who were some in each area, that they would not participate in that unless there was no one else to help with that particular thing. For example, we had math teachers who could not teach math and ypu might ask the Math Specialist to observe the teacher and see what help the teacher needed. She would even then, that is all she did. She would say this person needs help in certain aspects of math and left the evaluation to the principal in the school and the Assistant Principal who worked with those. We saw that the procedures worked. We would try to avoid having the Specialist whose job was to help teachers, the resource people: we worked to have them avoid having to participate in specific evaluations. Therefore, when the person was brought up for dismissal, the Area Superintendent could avoid being included in that unless it was just routine. Also teachers could appeal if we had any differences. It all started out when a teacher was being brought up for whatever reason. If she was being questioned or the first meetings would be at the Area office where a person from Personnel , the Principal, and the Area Superintendent :.ould be there. It would be a general informal information gathering. Everybody would be heard. We made it as democratic as we could. It also gave everybody a chance for input. The principal who knew and had responsibility, the personnel officer who had the background, and mine would often be just as observation, because I would not have had the direct observation as the principal, and I would not have the background as the others. I would see it and be given a copy of it. I may pass judgement and say nothing here suggests that the teacher cannot keep holding her job , or I may recommend that she keep on in her job if she does this this or this. Many times it would end like that. But some teachers in this day and time being very sure of their rights, and very cocky, admitting never to have made any , having shortcomings ; I would say I am unable to add anything or subtract. I do not disagree with anything that has been said here. They would have information, the children were dissatisfied, the parents dissatisfied, whatever; therefore I would not try to stop that unless I felt someone was being mistreated. Fortunately, we did not have too many, because people, if they are ...that would often ask for a transfer or resign rather than go through some of the processes. I can understand. It is an unpleasant experience for everybody. I was always very careful that I did not participate unless I had genuine information. I did not want to be responsible for affecting someone's whole career unless I knew I had solid information. The checker, whoever he is, the principal included, can make mistakes as well as the person being checked.
Q: Comment: Communication and honesty appear to be two important factors in being and effective leader. That includes whatever vision you may have for your school as well as how you go about achieving the goals you have set forth. When you were an administrator at the building level, what do you feel were your greatest assets ? Do you feel that communication and honesty were your greatest assets or did you have a mixture ?
A: Communication of course, is a very important major skill, that is the biggest thing there is. But honesty is a characteristic and not a skill. I hope it comes natural. I do think it is a characteristic of all that we do, what we say. Our attitude carries with it either that or a sincerity. I certainly agree with the importance of the word. I seem to say that honesty is a characteristic of your communication ability as everything else, There is no substitute for it. Almost every person regardless of his, how smart he is or whatever , can detect when somebody is not being fair or honest. It is easy to. You do not have to be brillant to discover that. I think it is very important. Along with that goes frankness. As far as you can go and be tactful of course, with people. In relationships, we have to be as honest as possible. It is very demeaning to a person to find out that an evaluation has been made and that the facts are wrong based on things that should not have been looked at. I do not recall many instances where persons were dishonest by intentions. Sometimes we did not have all the facts, which is a problem. It takes so much time. The Area Superintendent was really in a better position in some ways than the Superintendent. Certainly, of a large system, because again we did not have to deal with all the things a Superintendent had. We did not build building, we did not make any budgets,; we put our own budgets in, but a budget is a big thing, a building is a big thing. Public relations with the county heads, none of that hit the Area Superintendent. So we were better off than in a system where you had to do everything. We constantly were building organizations, instructions, services, and staff activities, not staff procurement. So we had no excuse not to know more about what was in our schools than we would than if we were a Superintendent of a school system of about what I had, forty-five thousand people. Communication was good and I thought it was good. People do not always agree with you. I do not think I was often misunderstood. Certainly in dealing with the teachers, school, personnel, community level. That is not all it takes at times because your answers do not satisfy people. Particularly in any system where things are growing so fast, growth is heavy, transportation was demanding. You could not have enough buses, you could not have them all there on time. You have some strikes against you to start with. So trying to make people like all, that is not easy. You try to be honest as possible, not say, your bus will be there tomorrow, say we will try our best to get a bus there tomorrow on time. Your street may still have to wait another twenty minutes. We have a little overlay. at school, so your youngsters will not miss much, if anything. We will get that worked out within a few weeks. Things like that we tried always, because the importance of that cannot be emphasized that if you did not, no one would trust you, they would distrust even what you say when you deal with the objective material. Especially when you deal with non objective , subjective, you had to be just as straight as possible. It pays off. If you do, people tend to respect what you say and try to do. I am not sure what my greatest asset was. I think though, openness and honesty , maybe. I hope warmth. if that is a term we can use. 16 I spent an enormous amount of time talking with the people who came in with whatever problems. In my office, which was a classroom, I put my desk in one corner. In the other corner I put a round table with six comfortable , not huge, chairs. We had a coffee pot for people to have a cup of coffee while we talked. The warmth and informality I think, is really priceless. I do not like to sit across the desk from people, that is very difficult. You have to have a one to one sometime, but when you came to public: parents , professionals , teachers , whoever , you can still do this informal. We are here on an even basis. That was one of the best ways of communication, in my judgement.
Q: Do you feel that your staff understood what was expected of them ?
A: Yes. We had a very good staff. I had the advantage when I went to Area Superintendent. Some of the staff , 1 had worked with for fifteen years. We took this great big staff that got to be a hundred; with Specialists and all aspects of Curriculum , instruction , all disciplines. First we did not have anything but General Supervisors and Curriculum Specialists. Then we had every area from commercial business to science for elementary. We built out of that way. It may not have been the best way to go but it was the only way we knew to go. That way we had experts recently trained to deal with new materials like that so called "newmath" that came along. We did benefit from these specialists. We used them in in-house activities to acquaint other people with some of their discipline if they did not have it. We let them learn from others how to deal with these people. Generally speaking, the way we knew we were succeeding was that these people were much sought after, appreciated. That worked one hundred per cent. It was rare, I was shocked, I had one or two times in my whole experience , counting the time I was Superintendent of Area Instruction and had all the specialists under me. Two people, I believe and that was some altogether about twenty years, I had two people that the principals asked please, that they not be permitted to come to their school. But, for a consultant, a person going around, that was an awful shock to me. I did not fight it. There were other people just as anxious to have them as these were not to have them. It gave me a chance to do some evaluating which we do in any big operation, whether or not these people are effective, whether they are making mistakes and that kind of thing. It did result, no one was ever dismissed or anything. It was not necessary. There was, going back to communication, someone erred in their communication. The one instance was in the field of the arts. This person became very bossy. She did not like what some people were doing in the high school Arts department and she told them to stop doing that. Well, it may have been useless or silly, all of us have done some useless activity. But she was in no position to say you do not do that. She could say "that is not good practice," or " I think you should find better use of your time and resources and better experience to do this." She was in no position to tell a teacher she could not do that and the teacher knew that. She did so much of this and became unpopular that the principal asked that she leave. I had no chice but to discuss it with her. Finally it was overcome. It took a while. I told her she had so much to do that she should let it rest awhile. It did not take long for it to be overcome. Generally speaking you get in trouble when you violate certain specific rules governing your role. The role of a specialist was not to command anyone to do anything. It was to advise.
Q: Do you think that is maybe one of the problems we even have today, that all the roles are not clearly defined ?
A: I think so. Also the changes. There were so many variables even then. In a school system as big as this, the size of the school system, the make up of the school; like one through six or whatever, all those things affect it. The number and variety of personnel that you have and what they do. I am sure there are jobs , when you first begin to grow like we learned a lot from other school systems. We talked daily almost with the Director of Instruction. He said, if you had to add a person in this area, what would you do in this area. We would just add three general supervisors. Which one would you add first ? Believe it or not. I do not think there was a right answer. I said, you may have to do what is politically the smartest thing to do. Because you want some more and you cannot get but one this year. 19 If you limit it to one or two people per year and try to build up a staff you need, you might have to choose a person and consider all those things , the person who will be your best example and who is a skilled communicator as well as a very gifted resource person. It does noy follow that each one is good in everything, but once you have your staff role, you get the person who can do the job best among those who are available.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add to the administrators role in a small versus large system ?
A: No, I do not think so .
Q: Do you feel that your effort were more appreciated in asmaller system ?
A: Well, it is hard to say. I have gone through a smaller system and a larger system. I think so, certainly in terms of everybody knowing you. In a larger system, no one knows everybody. We used to want to be sure that someone is known by a large number of people. We wanted to be sure that we did not have a person that was doing his job and not too many people knew it . I think that you improve that with the types of activities, types of communication that you have. It is entirely possible that you can blossom unseen in a large system. Like a teacher may quietly do her job and not be known by anybody but the teacher next door. She may not have any trouble. You really do not know if she is good or whether she just does not stir up any trouble . She may be ideal. That is when the principal should have the kinds of skills that can let her know that this is a quiet teacher, but she is effective. This is a loud , eloquatious teacher, but she is effective. This is a strong teacher , but she is effective . The principal if someone ought to know it . You assume in a teacher's meeting , you have heard from this one a lot . You could not assume from that how good they were . You would have to have the whole picture and that is why the principal is ideally suited person to evaluate teachers more so than anyone else, especially for his job .
Q: Do you agree with some of the concepts that they have now , where other teachers, mentor teachers , help out the newer teacher to a school and offer any , say with staff development or say how she should structure her classroom, or present as objective and achieve that ?
A: I may not be too familiar with that . I do agree with what I think is the idea . Teachers have often learned well from peers, older people, new ones , associates . One of the oldest practices, one that I participated in the year that I taught in the one room school, was to be taken by, a supervisor to another school some thirty miles away and observe a teacher doing , experienced ten years , doing what I was doing the first time . And I was . I knew I was because every child in my first grade was reading by Christmas . That was a record she told me . I had four children . You usually did not put them in books until after Christmas . I had gone the riggt method, because I had a lot of help on that . I had not studied primary, but I had had help frommy sister who was a good primary teacher, and from my supervisor . But by Christmas all four children were reading independent which was remarkable . But I happened to have had four good people I suppose. When I became a general supervisor and even a principal, if I had two or three teachers doing the same thing, oh yes indeed , I would let them work as a team behind the scenes and share ideas, share materials . They would all swap groups sometimes, things like that. The reason that I knew that worked, if you had a teacher for personal reasons or otherwise was not accepted... You see I had three primary teachers which I had in my large school, three first grades, maybe one combination three second grades . If you had one that was always to herself, she may be doing a pretty good job but she had problems because they had so much to share among themselves that we overcame that. The ones who cared could really make a team of it. They did not really have to be personal friends . One whoknew that and siad I want to borrow that thing you did the other day or I want to borrow this . could I have that set of readers that you used somewhere about the sixth month of school. That kind of thing was very, very good. You shared and then they would be sitting after school during that time when they had to do that kind of thing . Sharing this way, you need a pattern. What you are saying, referring to like the master teacher, the aid , the floating teacher . There is much to be learned, very much more so perhaps than this kind of thing behavior or teaching act than most anything I know of . Fortunately, often the teacher learns from a beginner . We have seen lovely things from beginning teachers, just because she knew how to do it. I remember, one teacher we had one time . We needed a teacher so bad. We did not have anybody so we got this teacher who had two years from what used to be a school in Washington called Webster Junior College. It is closed now . She had nothing but P.E. but the teachers then were having to teach all that P.E. . I had a principal who said, I know that teacher who can go to that school. So that principal would take her and if she knows how to teach primary physical education, she would let her with the help from those teachers that she would soon have them helping her. That is exactly the way they worked . She even rotated around to the schools. She said, you have your P.E. today , let Miss So and So go over there and handle your children, you can observe her and I will let somebody handle yours. So that teaches skills, consequently she became appreciated and a lovely member of the staff . She went on and got her other training and became a successful teacher. She thought it was because she had these good skills in P.E. which spread and right in turn she learned. She got her skills from them, academics and all that . The idea does work. Takes a little effort and a lot of kindness and warmth to want to do it, which many teachers have .
Q: Back to the one room school . How many years did you teach there ?
A: Just one, That was as much as I could spare, but I did enjoy it.
Q: We have touched pretty much about the social issues that do arise. Do you feel that a lot of school system goals, missions are changed as a result of certain things that do happen in the world of is it just the system itself ;the mission stays the same it is the people and the attitudes that change ?
A: The specifics change. For instance if we are trying to help children grow, physically and in every way. The children may change. In Depression time, you had few opportunities. They had cars, but all of them did not. There were not that many televisions then . Radio was it . As they grew, and the whole economy has made an enormous difference , As I said, I did not feel we were out of the Depression until World War II. In my personal experience, because I did not see the difference, children were very skimpy. Enormous number of children had to have free textbooks wherever you even in the city of Danville. Fortunately, in a city like Danville when I was there they had plenty of money, the school board just provided free textbooks to anybody thet needed them. Percentage wise it was not a big problem. It was ideal because we could guarantee. I have known in rural schools it would be weeks before all children got new textbooks. Wehad a requirement that all the children had to have textbooks the second day of school. It was easy . I made that in my school. It was easy because they are put in the building before school opens and ypu get them all , very simple, get them out. Get them into their hands the first day of school, which is ideal . The broad goals remain the same, but it takes more to accomplish them and schools change like everything else with the diversity. One of the biggest changes that has occurred in recent years has been but it is not the biggest. Two biggest changes has been economics. Even you mentioned your first year in Fauquier. There is money to be because it is more reason to spend it with the growth and everything. As in your county and is in Fairfax County. But I think economic change, upward for the better, in this area has been a big factor, a huge factor . The other factor that has happened all over the country, all over this area anyway is intergration, which has made an enormous difference and modified your practices . Oh , I hasten to say for the good, because it really was. It avoided hours of duplicity and everything else. Simply in administration, you just cut out a lot of it and got on with the business of educating children . Specifically, within the school it did not make that much difference, but it was one of the few changes that came about . I think about improved economy in the sixties when intergration was accomplished. I think they were two changes I observed both ways . I started during the depression and I saw it through. Then World War I made such an enormous difference. Those three things I think were very significant; the Depression World War II and its impact, all that followed and after World War II , integration. All three things. Schools should be everything about those things. Because the war was not good but the results of the war are not bad . The people moved around, saw more of the world . Their eyes were open. They were sensitized. We did not have schools with three or four nationalities here; Asians, Europeans, and all the Southerners and everybody else. You did not have everyone. I think that is good. It makes the world a little better place.
Q: Did /ou find any attitude changes with your teachers , within the staff, with being able to relate to all the different children from all walks of life ? Same thing for economics , there are a lot of children that do come to school that do receive free lunches .
A: I can remember the economics better, because as a principal I was seeing that . As an administrator, I was not as close to it. As a principal it was easy to see how people , teachers were very sensitive to especially in the earlier age , or just before World War II and after,teachers were very sensitive to economics . Especially in areas where in the city te had more contrast and the more difference between the haves and the have nots than there was in the rural areas . Yes, I saw prejudice of both kinds. I was very sensitive having been poor, not worse but poor. I saw a big difference in the response to teachers when I moved and taught one semester in the school where the other side of the tracks were ; where it was not nearly as good as the school I had which was much poorer. I observed something I did not even know, that teachers who people always assumed come from the middle class and most of them do . Dean Styles from down at the University of Virginia came there in the forties . He was shocked teachers said , "do not forget you came from the lower middle class ." There were teachers who were just insulted because it was enough to admit they were from the middle class. He had done research and.. statistically speaking that where he com from and always had. He said," where do you think most of the doctors and the preachers , that is where we come from, we are the salt of the earth ." The middle class applied to everybody including the working people . We are the best there are, there is nobody better than we are. " He said that but some of the teacc.hers could not take that . But in the city of Danville you had some people who always had wealth and all these gradations . I started to say something I was surprised tolearn after World War II when I was principal of newer school you had a lot of social differences. To see that some teachers were very prejudiced against some of the children. Guess who they were ? They were the ones who were chauffeured to school. Oh, they would not admit it. But it was so apparent. I was really concerned. I was amazed . Oh they were. ...Well Mrs. So and So was one who married wealth, and she was a wonderful person . An example was , we would have PTA's in the afternoon at that school so people would not have to come back . Well, you would think any teacher would love that because she would want them to caome to the PTA's so you had the PTA's at three thirty . The teachers objected, most of them, know why ? They were not about to put on their best clothes and teach in them all day, They said Mrs. So and So would come in here all dressed up and I am not going to go in there looking bedraggled with her, things like that . They were prejudiced. These women, most of themwere not working, They stayed home all day, they came to PTA. I did not see them dressed up, they were not dirty . These teachers did dress beautifully but they did not ....... I said not come here with fancy clothes on but I just observed it . Was not anything I could do about it except to say I did not see anything in the world wrong with it . I delighted with people but I enjoyed with the others too. They really were prejudiced against some, but one reason being some of them had been living there longer and knew these people and knew them when, that sort of thing , and they were prejudiced . You would assume then , I said, that if they are prejudiced against children's parents who are wealthy. think that they might be to those whose parents are unknown, difficult, and do not have anything . I really did not see much of that even though we had a group of those children too . You thought it was bad to have them in that building but it is not any problem really. I did not find any problems with the have- nots but with the haves . We tried to keep them from knowing it. There were these teachers who observed it too. A few of them had trouble with that. So people are usually prejudiced against something they are not familiar with but usually come around .
Q: How did you handle that ? Did you ever have to talk to your staff about it ?
A: It was not that big a thing. It was not everybody, just one or two. I would just point out. 1 would not be specific because 1 did not want to. Besides, they would not have admitted it . The business about the pTA's 1 pointed out. That helped me too. I lived six miles out in the country and I was glad not to have to drive back at night, no further than it was. But I said, this is one of the most wonderful things and besides, she was exaggeratinq. Some of these people wore dark dresses with a white collar and looked as neat as a pen, they were not bedraggled. l said, take plenty of time in the nice teachers room; t!:e women had fixed them a beautiful teachers room with mirrors and everythinq. Fix yourself up 1 said, you look as good as they do or better . I said, you are not kidding yourself. So ! did deal with that. 1 said...... Besides, 1 did not ever see any prejudice of that kind at all among the parents . We had some mill officials who would ask if their children when they came in new , they were from out out of town; that their children be put in classes with the best. With the children from "up town " he said . l said, " well not in this school. That is not the way we group them." 1 said, " we qroup children for learning, not for socializinq ." 1 will put them where they belonq. I assure you. you will not be grouped accordinq to where you live. 1 assure you . I told the teachers do not worry. They helped me with the qroupinq. 1 said I would take the responsibility . If I had not told him that, once we had let them think we put somebody somewhere. we would have all of them to do something like that. They knew we were not qoing to have it. And we were not going going to have it . We grouped children for learning purposes, not for anything else . Not for social contacts. Besides. who cares. Once they are in high school they did not even know where they came from. 1 never did qroup children by that . Letting them know you are going to do that one thlng because you have a right and that it was a riqht way to do it, worked fine .
Q: Since you mcntioned it, about grouping, and further down 1 was going to ask you. With the different concepts that we have in the schools; test scores, 1 do not know how important that was back when you were an administrator. But today, one of the ma1or concerns is performance on the S.A.T.'s and the Cognitive Abilities Test. What they would like to do is raise the scores. They would like to see no difference between minority and whites. Do you think that is unrealistic ?
A: Yes, I think that is unrealistic. Generally of course. 1 do not know how to comment about that because people vary for all kinds of reasons. Of course 1 think you can in effect chanqe it but so often . lf a person is performinq reasonably well :;here he is now, that is about all we can ask for . We can not go back and undo past experience. If past experience was in another school. another setting, or if you ... had limited facilities or resources. I do not assume there are a lot of differences. 1 will be frank with you, 1 do not see a lot of the differences that people refer to. I really do not think there are as many differences as they thing. Physical differences tend to disappear. I really think much of the racial differences have been highly exaggerated. You did not see that in the army. I was in the army when they integrated. We had a lot of academics taught real quickly. These people were not any more selected than one group than another . I did not see any difference in performance . We were tested more than they would in the school. It is not quite comparable but I think , I would hope , that this sort of thing was given way . When the schools have enormous number of minority, say for instance in Washington, where you have almost one group. I think the problem is poor schools. Not,not............. I really think to be honest, the reason is poor schools.
Q: What is your concept of poor schools ? How do you define that ?
A: A poor school is simply where the teachers do not accomplish what the children need . For instance at my school I was telling you where I was a good principal, that old elementary school with twenty-two teachers and a lot of low income children. There were hundreds of children there who did not have. Teachers would actually take more salary than they got At Christmas time every teacher took a child and outfitted him. There were a lot of children who did not have anything the others were alright. I took a little boy, and gave him. I did not have that much money. I took about thirty dollars. Thirty dollars out of my salary was a whole lot. We had teachers who would go to doctors and ask if they would treat children's eyes when they could not get help. The health services were not that generous. They did dental work pretty well. But teachers were that much concerned about these children The rest of the children did not know the difference. We ran a clothes closet. People sent out clean children's clothes and when people sent children to school dirty or needed a change of clothes the teacher would contact the family and ask permission to give clean, new clothes. It worked beautifully, Children welcomed it and took care of the dresses. We shared and children did not know these children had those differences. This was an example of teachers who sympathized with whatever problems children have. 1 think that is what counts. There some good schools. I worked part time, four and a half years for George Washington University after I retired out here I took the paralegal course and I worked for the program run by George Washington University Law School for problems for the elderly, especially for the elderly poor. I was not working in the schools but we encountered a lot of people who had contacts. I just felt that the schools , I feel that is the problem in the major cities that the other problems we do not have . I know that the pressures we do not have, the risks that we do not have. But I think there are a lot of children who achieve , we also do not hear about these. But if the teacher has the kind of rapport and is concerned with his whole life, his health, his behavior, his family, his home, his plans , and lets him Know she is interested in him and works with him and sees him grow; let's him know that he can come to her then that child normally makes progress and is a good person. He is fighting all those other outside things. Of course that is a great deterrent , but meeting the needs of children within limits that you can do , that starts out with a lot of love I think. They regard you, that is the nice thing. You may not get it in heaven, but you will get it right there. If a child knows you and appreciates you. Just really concerning yourself with the youngster and following through with it within limits that a teacher can go. We cannot change the whole community, we cannot stop violence, we cannot do that. We can do everything we can within limits. That is why the tests infortunately have to be used, but it is unfortunate that teachers success should be looked at., because some of the best things you do do not lend themselves to an achievement test. We know that. The child accepting himself is one thing. Sometimes children for various reasons come to feel good about himself will not show up on the test and generally that may be one of the biggest things that you accomplish. He has got a little sense of pride, he is not afraid.
Q: That would cover basically too what I was wondering about, that every child can learn.
A: We can just about say that. Now, there are a few people who have unique learning problems, but basically we assume they can and also there are so many related things they can be involved in and still be happy in school. A child that is left alone because he cannot do anything becomes a problem maker and starts cutting up . We are assuming there is one percentage of sick children , one percentage of psychopathic children, but then some of them today I realize we know less about them because of some of the new people I do not know ... about.
Q: Do you feel that class size; you know teachers today, some of them may feel, "well I have too many kids in my room, I cannot get to everyone. I cannot have three or four reading groups, that kind of thing ." Do you feel that class size has anything to do with it ?
A: I think it has something to do with it. But also it is one of the most convenient excuses. I have observed and heard the same complaint when teachers had thirty and when they had forty. It is sad to say. When I first taught in the Teaching Principalship , we had five teachers. I had forty three children there. I had that many because I wanted the primary teachers to have as few as possible . We all averaged over thirty but I had forty three with big children , a seventh grade group. I could work with them, I could control them. It is a problem and we ought to try to bring the loads down. I think though it is too often used as an excuse . There are ways to organize. It is preferred, like sometime you do nothave room. I hate for a teacher not to have room to change the things from four rows to six rows , that is bad. I like to have room. Somwhere to have a table, not to make it informal or flexible. I'm in favor of smaller groups but I have to say it has been one of our best excuses, more common excuses or reasons. I am in favor of making the class load small. I would say if I were a teacher I would not want twenty . I will say this , even first grade I would watch out. One time I told a group of teachers ;they fought and fought to get smaller groups with an aide and I said , " you will be in grave danger. " They said, what of ? I said , " you have removed ; your last excuse will be used up and that is the truth. " We have seen classes that have come down to a small group with an aide part- time and she did not do any better than when she had thirty . The children did no better. If you do not change your practices, if you are not going to give more or do more whatever, individual time . Besides, many children do not learn from individual instruction. We know that is true or we never would get through to a class of forty. They had to learn from group instruction . Individual attention works, a pat on the back , and I know you Sam and Mary , that is great ,| , but you do that in passing. You can not take her that old time way of coming up here and reading next that never did work . I remember when I was in school you got your turn to come up here and read and that was your reading for the day. That was very poor.
Q: We know that class size does not really make a difference.
A: It is important. And should be as small as reasonable. If you carried it to the Nth degree you would have one and that is not either ideal for the teacher or either for the pupil.
Q: You mentioned a principal would be the one to get his staff involved and realizing the worth of every individual.
A: I certainly think so. The principal should. That is called faculty meetings where you spend time talking about mechanics. What door to go out, what time to get to the cafeteria and all that should be written out and put on a piece of paper. Meetings should talk about the very kind of thing I am talking about. That is when teachers can share and learn from each other. It is ruallv useful. There will always be people who do theis rather well and they are glad to share. Others can discover as I did how much fun it is in the process. When you are alone that is why some people did better in small schools because they had to figure things out for themselves. I do think that teachers are a great source of sharing how to do. If you really enjoy the youngsters and want to see something happen, then you observe , you see it , and you share it and that becomes helpful to others and helps you in your evaluation.
Q: What types of staff development or in-service training did you offer ?
A: I do not know what they do today. We use to have vastly more than we have now. We .:ould have sessions where we dealt with a particular thing like the skill subjects reading and math with some teacher or outside person or supervisor presenting some new information. We had projects or themes which we let teachers participate in , say panel discussion. or we used films or things of that kind. We had these larger meetings which are pretty much out of style now where you had a whole area of teachers come together and have the day off. They serve well during the day. Ideally the best practice would be what you can do in your own school, with your own faculty. If you had materials to demonstrate or use, let somebody go out and learn how to do it, come back and show the rest of them. That is what we did in the old days when we first had movies or films. We got a film projector in each school. When we found good teaching films we taught somebody in the building how to do it. You taught the principal. I learned first and taught teachers a few at a time everyday how to use the projector rather than hire someday to do it . Just using the projector made them willing to do it and anxious to show a film or use a film . Many times in high schools often they have somebody or students do it for them. We found it a real advantage to have equipment ,like this taperecorder, that the person in charge use it. The in-service other than basic courses that you take at the universities, the specifics that you deal with on your own school level are the absolute most practical and most realistic serve best.
Q: That goes into some of the current concepts that we have today. Are you familiar with school based management ?
A: No. I like the sound of it .
Q: Basically, with School Based Management, the local schools are given the control again where the principal is the manager. That is where he has his staff development, depending upon what the schools needs are , the community needs . What I was thinking of in terms of years ago when I was in school.. I think that is what they did ?
A: That is because you did not have any other, right ? That is why some schools are good . I can remember, I was amazed a few years ago. Not many years ago we had a person to come down in the summer as a project workshop. In the summer we worked on curriculum development, writing guides and things like that . Then, you had a few people to do things like that. That was project work. We employed a general supervisor from Cincinnati to work with us for a short time working on something. The first thing I asked her was , " you are a general supervisor ?' She said , "yes." " What grades ?" She said ," grades one through seven." I said, " how many people are there besides you." She said, " None." Here they were over one hundred thousand pupils and one general supervisor. I did not agree with that at all because if I did not have but one for that many people,I would call her a consultant. I said, " with all due respect I know you are an expert, if you are going to call yourself a general supervisor, in my judgement you are going to have to redefine the term because we see a supervisor as knowing people." She said , Oh, I know them ." I said, " you could not. You may know the names, even hundreds of people, but how can you know how she is doing or what the problems are, how she did last year, or what she needs you to help her with." Nobody knows that much . Besides, there is not that much time. So she was defending the idea I guess. But it was unrealistic. So it focuses back to the school where it takes place. It is like health practices. Health practices should begin at home, where your food, your rest, your cleanliness and everything else, your medication all sensible and proper and and well done. Then you do not have to worry about doctors and clinics. If you can do a real good job with it because you can not guarantee it.
Q: You know they have an assessment center for administrators to go through for selecting administrators. That will help the system decide whether or not they would be effective or whatever. Are you pretty familiar with that. ?
A: I think people have to have that. They call it different names. Fairfax County used to run scores of people through a thing that met once every two weeks. It was like a course. Different people at all levels led the sessions. They learned everything from how you planned the first building to how you managed busses to how you wrote a budget. They were presented that. My comment about that is, often there you are getting information that you do not need. Every principal is not going to write a budget... somebody does, but you do not have to know how to do it . The idea of having any kind of activity or any kind of institution of that kind, especially in a good size system is wise . Not being facetious or insincere ..We not only have to try to train our people and help them do a good job but we have to let the world know, let the taxpayers, that we are trying to do a good job. Individuals who benefit from that kind of thing some more than others. For instance . in the old days you took the tallest or the best one or the most energetic person and made them a principal. Some of them were fantastic. One of the best principals I have ever known in my whole list of principals was one in a school in Danville, where I taught one semester before I became principal. I was twenty six then. This woman , she was the only principal I had. She was one of the best principals I have ever known. She had the total respect from everybody, the children . She was a delicate, small, sensitive woman. Children, no problem . She put on her coat and went to the back of the playground. I do not care how cold the day was during the breaks they had. It was in the city . You had safety patrol and all that to manage. She managed that. She delegated a great deal which you should, so she did not have to always go out. The best thing was I was a teacher there and I wanted her to come to my room. I was teaching sisth grade, two sections. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. She came to my class and sat down and spent some time to find out how I was teaching. Some people said, why was she looking at me ? I figured , I said she owed me that. I was a new teacher. The others had been there for years. She knew how they taught but she owed this to me to find out how I was teaching. It was just fantastic. She was a competent observer without taking a noteshe could review what I had taught that day. As a principal she related to everything in that school that needed her. She either knew or got into. It came easy because she had experience but if you did not have that kind of attitude you would not have. She was a very beloved and successful woman.
Q: If you had it to do all over again, would you start out as a teacher or would you rather be an administrator ?
A: I think it is good to start out as a teacher. I admit begrudgingly, that I did not have enough teaching experience. I had four and a half years and three of those I was a teaching-principal of a five teacher , that is about a two hundred pupil school. I had one semester of English teaching at a high school. I would have liked to have had a year or two of high school teaching. I do think teaching is invaluable. The one room school teaching was so valuable because you had every single thing you had to do . You had to do all the reports, every single thing. You were entirely on your own. You could not depend on anybody else at all. It was a good laboratory. That was the ideal laboratory to get a taste of it. Many people said,"none of that,I am gone." And I would not have wanted to stayed there five years. I went back in town. I lived forty miles from there. I would go over in town on Saturdays. Making no money, so I worked in a shoe store, which made enough money to pay my board. I made about five dollars a day working in a shoe store. I was not making five dollars a day teaching. That was a great experience. But I do think teaching, some teaching , it does not have to be a fixed amount. It is certainly an ideal way to go. Of course I also had a lot of Psychology which I recommend. I do not know whether that is why I was interested in children or enjoyed children so much, since I was the youngest one. I had no younger brother or sisters. I loved children. I took a lot of Child Psychology starting with Child Psychology of Infancy and Early Childhood. That was the first course I took in graduate school which I think is the best place to have it. Graduate psychology. I had a big block of it. I loved it. It was not a waste of time. You learned about behavior, more than I had ever studied before.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring administrators ? How would you describe, if you could use one word to describe an effective administrator ?
A: I could make one sentence maybe. It would be very hard with one word. One sentence would be , concerned and interested in everything about the school. Because there is no part that you do not have to deal with. For instance. attendance, physical problems, social behaviors, attitudes, dress, exchange, climate, friendly, sharing, interested in everything that everyone does. Whether it is in a large school , sports, performances, individuals . Then problems, Know who has problems. Not to parade about them and talk. One of the problems , I think we talk too much about children with problems. I think that is a sad problem. I have said in meetings, for heavens sakes, please let us not spend a whole lot of time talking about poor Jimmy. If that would help him and that will not help him. We all know about it. They agreed with me. I think that the real concern about everything, genuine concern is the only thing I know, and doing whatever that concern leads you to do. I do not think that it is just one word. It is a multifaceted operation. Many people get into it not by cboice even. I am sure I got in by choice. The circumstances again it was the Depression when I got in . But I never regretted a moment of it. 1 regret not having made a bigger salary all those years. That soon ceased to be a great concern. If money was the object you certainly would not go into it. I know of no other job that gave as much satisfaction as teaching. I really do not . I still do not know that any work can give as much satisfaction as teaching. At any role, teacher, principal, administrator it is less satisfying at the top actuaLLY. There is less credit too. If you are honest, everything practically accomplished you point to the person in charge. People do not always get what they deserve. The more satisfaction is at the teaching level. Achievement is possible at any level. When the work is good somebody has to point it out. The teacher is important and we all do not play quarterback. The principal has to know what and how she is doing and see it with sympathy, understanding and feeling. Not how good she is or how bad she is, but understand her, work with her and like her. Generally you can. She is the key. The principal word was no accident when they called that principal. I think some people do not know that really. But it was no accident when they called that principal. What it meant was "principal teacher." That is reall/ what it meant. He is the principal teacher,but some principals do not do a good deal of teaching.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add or share ?
A: No , but I did want you to remember my three things that I do think were extremely important in education of the era in which I have been. They were the Great Depression, World War II. I do not think the subsequent 1;ar is as serious as the social problems , like the Vietnamese thing. They did not have the total impact or like the impact of World War II. Such social problems as integration, extremely important and I think positive. Likewise the influx of foreign people ,like the Hispanics from the south . We are going to have many more of that apparently and other foreign qroups. It is different from our own people who are here. Like theCase of inteqration. We have an amazing influx of culturally different people. We are nationally different. A whole world of differences. But dealing with that it will be a test of our schools but should not defeat them by any means. The whole world is going more diverse because of mobility and dispersal of people . We will just have to live with it.
Q: Although the interview formally ended, interviewee continued to share information .
A: I think a great job is being done in the schools.
Q: In what areas do you think they are better ?
A: Generally speaking, even though there are children who have problems more people do the things we think they ought to do. T!:e field of Physical and Health Education ; I know that much of that leads to sports but, it is positive and very good. I was never a coach or an athlete, but I am a firm believer that physical education is a valuable experience. Opportunities for children to participate in anything like that , such as band, are so big and overt, you see those. I think it says to us that she should find other areas for children who are not going to do those things to express themselves in. They will not be sure as loud but they can be just as good experience. Notes to parents are also extremely important especially for a child that needs encouragement or who does not have a chance or does not often do anything.
Q: What about certification for teachers? Certification requirements will be changing for teachers, getting them prepared basically in the liberal arts.
A: I am out of it now. Is it trending toward more liberal arts before professional training ?
A: I would certainly endorse that for every reason. I had almost a finished degree in liberal arts before I took the professional courses. I took them because of the Depression and I was afraid I could not get a job and took extra time. So I had liberal arts courses. Then they required teaching courses and practice teaching. I really think it is a good idea. You do not ever have enough of general education. There are many examples of that. You have read stories where there are many teachers who are poor in general information. A teacher who teaches has to sort of saturate himself if possible with the general information. Teaching, you must keep up as near as possible. Even in politics especially. It is easy to have an opinion, you hear it on the news and television for the lazy reader.
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