This is July 20, 1998. I am speaking with Edward F. Grimm in the auditorium of Richlands Middle School on his experiences as a Middle School principal.
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Q: Would you begin by telling us about your family background - your childhood interests and development?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: I was born in 1923 in Athens, West Virginia. I grew up on a farm outside of Athens, in a little place called Speedway down next to Pipestem State Park. I graduated from Richlands High School, I'll correct that (laughter), Athens High School in 1941. The next year I went to Concord College for one year, my freshman year, then the Second World War caught me and I spent 37 months in the Marine Corp in the South Pacific. I was in four major combats, including Iwo Jima. My dad was a railroad man for the Old Virginia Railroad in Princeton, West Virginia. His family was rather large; there was three boys and five girls. Five of them were teachers. I came back after the Second World War went back to Concord College and got my degree where I met my wife, Louise, who was a teacher at Richlands High School for seven years. I started out to be an electrical engineer. I have all the pre-requisites the first two years of electrical engineering. I got married and I saw a quick way out to make some money, so I finished and went into teaching. I spent my first year of teaching in little a Junior High School right out of Beckley, West Virginia called Eckles. The next year I moved to Mercer County, West Virginia and taught six years at Matoaka High School. Then the Superintendent of the County, Tazewell County invited me to come and teach at Pocahontas High School and coach. I got to coach basketball and football. My wife and I both majored in math and she majored in chemistry besides, and I majored in math and physics. So when we went to Pocahontas High School it became a Grimm situation for the kids because they had to go through both of us to get their diplomas (laughter). Then after six years the Superintendent of the County, Mr. J.R. Wathall asked me to come to Richlands High School in 1960 to be the Assistant Principal. The reason I think, was the fact that I was the only man in the county with an Administrative Degree who was not a Principal (laughter). And so, he said he would move my wife to Richlands High School also, so we could be together. And so, in 1960 we moved to Richlands High School. I have three brothers. Two of the brothers, were in the Marine Corp and my youngest brother was in the Korean War, in the Navy.
Q: Thank you. Could you discuss your college education and preparation for entering the field of teaching? How may years did you serve as a teacher? A principal?
A: Well, as I said awhile ago, I went to Concord College and I got my B.S. Degree in 1948. I then went to West Virginia University and got my Masters Degree in 1952. A little later in 1965, I went to East Tennessee State University and got my Superintendent's Certificate cause it required school law and school finance. Which I think all principals should have to have anyway, school law and school finance. I spent thirteen years as a teacher in Junior High and High School teaching math, physics. I had a wide variety of experiences teaching. I taught physical education. I have a minor in physical education. I also have a minor in industrial arts. I taught industrial arts at Matoaka High School for three years. Then in 1960, I became Assistant Principal at Richlands High School. I spent 24 years, I have been a Principal at every school in Richlands. I started out at Richlands High School and went to Cedar Bluff Elementary for three years and moved then to the Richlands Elementary School for two years. They changed it to Junior High School. I became the only Principal of Richlands Junior High School which lasted nine years. It was quite a job to set up a Junior High School right after Elementary School and had to have new teachers because they required the teachers in Junior High School to be certified in the field that they were gonna teach. I believe that may cover it.
Q: Sounds like you had a lot of different uh interesting jobs in the field of education. What motivated you to enter the principalship? How did your motives change over the years?
A: Actually, I was not to interested in the principalship until, because I was coaching football and basketball. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed my teaching at Pocahontas High School, math and physics. The Superintendent of Tazewell County Schools asked me if I would move to Richlands High School as Assistant Principal. After I got into it, I found out that I really liked it. I enjoyed most of my years as a Principal. I liked working with teachers and the students. And it gives you a chance to start moving up the ladder if you really want to move, you know you have to go through that . I had thought about a time or two maybe going into the Central Office as a Supervisor or something, but I just never could get up nerve to leave enough the Principalship. I really liked it there, so I stayed with it.
Q: I know that you really enjoyed being a principal. You were very instrumental in developing and building Richlands Middle School - the first middle school in Southwest Virginia. Please discuss these experiences.
A: Well, I was the first Principal of Richlands Junior High School and while I was there they built Richlands Elementary School. The old Junior High School was built in 1929 and it was too small. I had 800 in the Junior High School. Not enough space. So the Superintendent of schools and the Board of Education which I got along well with, decided to go including the Superintendent to a middle school. I was allowed to go on several trips with the Superintendent, a Board Member and the architect who designed this school. We went to Prince William County and I went to Orange County and I went to a middle school in Richmond. And so, I got pretty involved with it. I was very thankful with the fact that the Superintendent and the board member allowed me to work with the architect. We spent probably two years planning this middle school. I was allowed to choose the colors because we moved in it in 1976, which was the bicentennial year of Virginia. So I choose red, white and blue. And uh, I spent hours setting up new programs for a middle school. Being the only middle school in Southwest Virginia, I had to do it on my own, pretty much. We were going to include the sixth, seventh and eighth grade. The first year it had 1,179 students in this middle school and I had to set up a program for those. We strived, the faculty, and the Assistant Principal and all strived very hard to make it a show place. The fact we had a Superintendent and a Board Member come all the way from Dallas, Texas to visit this school. We had others come in from other middle schools and tour the school because the design of this school was different from any other middle school I had visited or have seen. Three stories, with an elevator. Uh, the program itself was awful hard to set up to try to keep the sixth, seventh and eighth grades kind of segregated from each other because of age group. We tried to do that. And we wanted to involve all of the students the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in all the programs that we could offer. We had to set up programs like shop, home ec., music. We had a computer program that year. Physical education, band and art, choir. And we wanted all the students to go through those. And so this was a very difficult task to set up a program to keep the students going for a six weeks or ever how long you wanted to keep them in it. In all of these programs and rotate every six weeks or semester. The building was designed so that some of the classrooms could be opened up as many as four in one area, especially the social studies classes and English classes four. All the other rooms on the sides around the building could be opened up into two rooms. And as I said, we opened up with approximately 1200 students. All of the students in the Western District of Tazewell County were involved. And plus doing all of this and getting in their basic classes was quite an undertaking .
Q: It sounds like you had your hands full.
A: I had my hands full.
Q: Would you take us through a walk to the school, and maybe describe its appearance and any unusual features or anything your proud of?
A: Yes, I am very proud of the fact that this building was designed different from any other middle school that I had seen or been in. The gymnasium was one of the first gyms to have a rubberized floor and of course a middle school that involved a gym, home ec, auditorium, band , music, air conditioned. No open windows on the outside of the building. And some of the rooms, interior rooms, had no windows at all. We had lockers on each floor for all students. A beautiful library. Health rooms , locker rooms for gymnastics and so forth. And one of the problems we had at the time is the fact that I was going to have the high school sports program here, the football program and the basketball program was moved to the middle school. And all that creates a lot of problems. I also had the high school band and choir over here. Also, the first year I had a teacher's program from VPI, Tech. In fact, I had the Superintendent's sister as a student teacher here that year and Dr. Terry Graham from Virginia Tech had an office here and run his teacher program out of this school also. So, we had a big job, it was a terrific job, I had one Assistant Principal and getting started and getting off the ground. Looking at the building after twenty-two years it still looks like it is in pretty fair shape.
Q: It looks like you developed a building that would stand the test of time and help the students in the future so I think you did a good job there. There are those who argue that more often than not, central office policies hinder, rather than help building level administrators in carrying out there responsibilities. Would you give your views on this issue?
A: I would say it depends a whole lot on how much backing you get from the Central Office. Sometimes Central Office people, that have not been a Principal do not understand the Principals views of running a school. I've always thought that the central office makes rules and regulations, sometimes without involving the Principal or to some of these things. When you make some of these policies and we had some policies made throughout Tazewell County, but they were not backed up. There is no use in making a policy unless you are gonna back the Principal and carry it out.
Q: Right, I agree with that. If you were advising a person who is considering an administrative job, what would you advise them?
A: First thing I would advise them is to get as much experience in the teaching career and be involved in how many different areas you can teach, now I taught a biology class, I taught industrial arts, I taught physics, math, science, physical education, coached and I think that gives you a pretty good idea of what each department, what's going on. UH, secondly can you handle people? You've got to be able to get along with people, if you can't its going to be an awfully hard job. Can you take the emotional strain? Sometimes it's awfully hard. I built myself a woodworking shop at home and many times after school I would go out there and spend two or three hours working. I sometimes thought maybe if I had a punching bag in my office it might help (laughter). But anyway, you've got to get along with people, you've got to be able to take the emotional strain. You've got to be able to listen carefully to parents and teachers. You've got to be a good listener. And as I said to be a good Principal you need to take as many courses as you can, maybe outside your field, school law, school finance, and some other classes.
Q: There are those who argue that the principal should be an instructional leader and those who suggest that, realistically speaking, this person must be, above all, a good manager. Would you give your views on this and describe your own style?
A: First, the teachers have to know that you are the boss, that you're in command. Secondly, I think you have to be a good listener, you have to be fair, you cannot be unfair with some teachers and to students you have to be, you have to not show partiality. There are times when it's awfully hard, but you've got to use good judgment. Evaluation of teachers is also a touchy subject. Sometimes, you get yourself in a position where a teacher feels like you may have evaluated them a little unfairly and so forth. So, to be a good manager, you just have to be able to do a lot of things well.
Q: Thank you. What, in your view, should be the role of the Assistant Principal? Discuss your utilization of such personnel.
A: In 1969, I believe it was, the Superintendent allowed me to go to Dallas, Texas to a National Principals Conference, and I was chairman of a group of two hundred Assistant Principals. And we discussed, I wish I had my notes now, but of course that has been a long time ago. A Principal cannot do it all, the assistant principal is there to help carry out some of the duties. I feel like the Principal is in charge of the personnel, I think the teachers and custodians and the cafeteria personnel all should be under the Principals jurisdiction. I think the Assistant Principal is there to learn, you got to learn as you go, and there are many duties that have to be assigned to the Assistant Principal. I assigned bus duty to the Assistant Principal, to be the head of it, discipline, attendance, help with scheduling, she needs to know what the scheduling is, I also had the Assistant Principal in charge of our sports program.
Q: It seems that you kept the assistant principal busy when you were principal, but I'm sure that you taught them a lot.
A: Eventually, they gave me two Assistant Principals and they divided that work up so it wasn't quite so bad.
Q: As you view it, what characteristics are associated with the most effective schools, and what features characterize less successful schools?
A: I believe, that the most effective schools have to have strong leadership. Teachers have to be in an atmosphere that is friendly, yet must know that they have to perform well. You must involve your faculty in policies uh and sometimes even involve some of them in scheduling. I think some of the better schools have more involvement from the faculty, the Assistant Principal, and anyone else who needs to be involved with it. I think, that maybe, the poor leadership is a poor learning environment, you've got to have a good learning environment, the children and the teachers have to know they can come to your office, that you will listen to them, that you will be fair. And a poor learning environment, I feel like is the fact, that teachers are afraid to come to the Principal's office, students are afraid to come to the Principals office or the Assistant Principal's office and I think the atmosphere, the learning atmosphere is what makes a good school.
Q: Thank you, I agree with you 100%. In recent years more and more programs for special groups of students (LD, Gifted, Attention Deficit Disorder) have been developed. Please discuss your experience with special services and your views on today's trends.
A: I set up the first special education class at Richlands Junior High School back in the early 70's. We, did not have any special education in the county if I remember right at that time, we had some students that needed to be separated from the general run of the students. Some of them were a little but disabled, some of them did not have a very good attention span and ah I went to my school board member and we discussed it and I won't mention any names, but he had a son who was not quite capable of keeping up with the regular classroom schedule. So, we set up a special education class for those students who we felt should be in it and I think we held it to about fifteen students at that year. And eventually, I think the next year we had two classes. And ah we had two teachers who were trained to be special education teachers and I feel like we had also the town of Richlands, the TV cable system give us a TV, and run a cable to the special education class, and so that's the only TV we had in the school at that time. Then you mentioned something about gifted classes. I remember some problems over gifted classes because it caused hard feelings with some parents who felt like their student belonged in the gifted class, I set up a class, and it was a big class I limited it to thirty students, they were the top 10 maybe 5% of the class be it eighth grade or whatever class you had. We had a cut off date, scores, most of them were IQ scores and we had a cut off and we limited it to thirty students. We had some parents who felt like there students should have been in it, but you had to have a cut off somewhere, and so I am not sure gifted classes, sometimes are worth setting up for. Although sometimes students who are college bound students maybe, should be directed into some classes that students sometimes don't always get to take. We had some classes in the junior high school, middle school one year, algebra, ah I don't know if you have algebra now or not?
Q: Yes, we do.
A: I, think you do. Being a math major, I'm a firm believer that not all students can get algebra and advanced mathematics. There are some students, who are bright students, who just cannot grasp mathematics. So therefore, I feel like placing, college bound student, that are going to have to have these courses maybe, but not just because they are a bright student.
Q: Thank you for your answer. Given the presence of administrative complexity, if there were three areas of administration that you could change in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of educational administration, what would they be?
A: It's a pretty tough question, it's probably loaded a little bit, but I would say this, it seems like improving communications among teachers, administrators, and the Central Office would be one of my, that is, it seems like sometimes communication is being handed down and by the time it gets handed down it is not always what it started out to be. Secondly, I feel like that if rules are made they should be enforced and backed by the Central Office. We had some rules that, and I don't mind to say it, I'm not in it, we had a smoking rule in this county and I assume they still do. I have had students who were caught smoking as many as 15 or 20 times, the School Board did not back me. They, what do you do whenever they make those rules and so you learn to kinda over look them. But, I feel that sometimes, the school and faculty should have more input upward toward the Central Office. We should be involved in the making of the rules and regulations and not from the top down. It's awfully hard to take these rules, thus the communications come down to you sometimes, and interpret them the same way that the School Board and Superintendent want you to do them.
Q: Thank you. Would you describe your relationship with the Superintendent in terms of his general demeanor toward you and your school?
A: I was very fortunate to have a superintendent for the years that I was a Principal. The first Superintendent, Mr. J.R. Wathall, who hired me as Assistant Principal, who moved me up, I've always said this, the reason they moved me up is because I had a losing football season, that's a joke you know as everybody does. I had a good rapport with my Superintendent and then Mr. Lester L. Jones took over and he was my Principal (Superintendent) for 23 years of it. We got along fine, he let us run our school and I appreciate that, because I think that is what should be allowed to run their schools.
Q: It sounds like you were an effective leader. Would you discuss your general relationship with the Board of Education and comment on the effectiveness of school board operations in general?
A: My relationship with the school board over the 24 years was excellent because I was acquainted and friends with most of the school board members from our area, ah and also members of the supervisors. I knew them and knew what they expected of me. I had real good rapport with them and so I never had any run-ins or any problems really with the Superintendent or School Board.
Q: Good. There are those who argue that standardized testing can provide a way to improve instruction. Please discuss your experience with such testing and provide us your views on it effect on the quality of the instructional program.
A: Standardized testing, I think, providing you don't spend too much instructional time in giving these tests can be effective. It can tell you if the teachers are doing their job and also whether the students are learning what the teachers are trying to get across to them. From my experiences with standardized tests, they let you know where your school could be strong or weak, ah you might be strong in your language arts program and weak in your science program and so forth, so I think standardized test do that. On the other hand the Standards of Learning tests today that you have, I think probably from what I can find out from some people I've talked to is that they have to much loss of instructional time. It takes to long to run through these tests. Another thing on a standardized test, if your not careful, if they are given to early in the Spring, six weeks or two months of the instructional program is left out of it. And, so therefore, they ought to be given very close to the end of school.
Q: Those are some very good points. Could you describe your work day. That is, how did you spend your time? What was the normal number of hours per week you put in?
A: My day started at 7:30 at both, at all the schools, because I put myself on early morning hall duty. I did not believe that a Principal could set an example unless he did do these things. I think that if a Principal will do some of these duties also it sets a very good example for his teachers. Also, most of my parent interviews I tried to have before 9:00, if they could get in, the parent interviews and also teacher problems. If teachers had problems, I tried to get them before classes started in the mornings. I also spent an awful lot of my time in the classroom. Teacher evaluation and I tried to make my presence known. I would get up sometimes to relieve tension and wonder through the building seeing what was going on and I think the teachers and students knew that I was going to be coming around, I think that set a good example. I also, had a sports program which brought me back for many, many nights and many, many trips. The first year I moved into Richlands Middle School I spent 89 nights back at the school for sports programs and other programs. Once we built the new middle school, every organization in the community wanted to use the middle school gym or auditorium, and I felt like that was my duty or the Assistant Principal, or both of us, to be here. So my days weren't set by a normal number of hours, but normally I would come in at 7:30 and quit at 4:00 or 4:30. And come back at night many, many nights.
Q: It sounds like they got their monies worth. Would you describe some of the pressures you faced on a daily basis and explain how you coped with them, describe your biggest headaches or concerns on the job? Describe the toughest decision or decisions that you had to make.
A: Probably, some of the pressures I faced, probably sounds funny, but I did my job well. I've thought this many times, and Ed are you doing your job to the best of your ability, are you doing it. Also, secondly, probably are teachers doing their job. It makes it easy if you're doing your job and the teachers are doing their job. One of the problems I had too, was that parents learn teachers and they would come and ask you to get certain teachers, they would like to have their kid in a certain teacher's class and of course you can't do that . You have to take'em as they come. Probably one of the hardest jobs I had over the years, I was responsible for firing five teachers. It is hard to fire someone of their livelihood, but it was my job, I felt like if I had a teacher who could not do the job and was not doing the job they had no business trying to teach. So, over the years I did get rid of some teachers and that was a very tough job. Discipline is a problem for any Principal, Assistant Principal cause it's always there, it will never go away and today's Principals and Assistant Principals have even a greater job because there is so much violence in school. Over the years that I was Principal, we didn't have to much violence, but we had a lot of problems, but not violent problems. So today Principals and Assistant Principals have to be very, very careful because of the violence that's going on in schools.
Q: Thank you. Would you tell us they key to your success as a principal?
A: I think my key to being a good Principal, which I hope I was, fairness, you've got to be fair, not only to teachers but to parents and to students. Secondly, you gotta listen to teachers, they have problems and I know even though they are small, sometimes it can be great to them, so you have to listen to them. Your parents, you have no way to not listen to them and you have to sympathize sometimes. And students, you got to listen to students because students always have problems (laughter). There are days when they have problems and they will come and talk to you about them and so forth. I think also my success was, I got along well with the Superintendent of schools and the School Board and the Central Office. And I did my job with extra duties, I always included myself in any extra duties. I couldn't always be there, but I would put myself on those duties, and I think that is one of the things that makes you a successful Principal. To be able to do the things that you require your other people to do.
Q: Principals operate in a constantly tense environment. What kinds of things did you do to maintain your sanity under these stressful conditions?
A: That's a tough one, I was gonna say (laughter) drink a lot of coffee maybe, but probably I tried to leave my school problems at school when I leave the school. And as I said before I set up myself a woodworking shop and I would go home and spend 2 or 3 hours in the shop making little things, clocks and music boxes and so forth. Secondly, I let parents know I would not discuss problems over the phone after I got home. I would tell them lets make an appointment and I will see you tomorrow or whenever you can make it, you know. You can't take your problems home with you, so ah, also whenever my office work got to the point where I felt like it was pressure building up a little bit, I would get out and visit a department in the school and see what was going on, phys. ed., home ec. or shop, whatever. I used to like to go listen to the band and choir and so I think some of these things kinda breaks the tension, you know.
Q: Right, right. Please discuss the way in which you learned to lead; that is, what procedures or experiences you were involved in that contributed to your effectiveness, and the contribution that professional graduate education make to your progress.
A: That is a question that, you know the old saying you are a born leader, but I don't believe that. You have to learn to be a leader because I don't think any of us are born leaders. So I feel like probably my coaching experience was one of the first, I feel like you had to be a leader because you got those children and you got to be able to lead those children and ah. My three years in the marine corp during the second World War, I feel like, I was acting platoon leader several times and experiences you had to learn to initiate on your own. I feel like that is another way in which I learned to lead. It, we had teacher's meetings at one time on Thursdays and every other Thursday you had to have an in-service meeting. Do you still have those?
Q: Yes, sir.
A: O.K. I think that whenever I retired I had done 430 of them according to one of my teachers and I think you learn to lead there, you have to learn to lead. I think you can learn something by listening to parents, especially PTA, when you have your PTA's and listen to some of your PTA members who are members in the PTA. Of course listen to teachers. Principals meetings, I think you can discuss problems at Principals meetings, I think all Principals and Assistant Principals, if they can get away, oughta attend Principals conference, state principals conference and if you get a chance even a national principals conference. Or another good way, if you can get a committee to evaluate another school. And that is an excellent way to learn what other schools are doing.
Q: Very good answer. It has been said good leaders encourage their subordinates and peers by staging celebrations of their successes, no matter how small or insignificant. To what extent did you engage in this practice during your tenure as principal, and to what extent did you improve morale and organizational effectiveness?
A: Probably, visiting classrooms as many times as I possibly could the more often you can get in a classroom or department and see what's going on. I think that it gives you an idea of what is going on and makes you understand as a leader what is going on within your school. Also, I feel like when I visit a teacher and I feel like they had a good class and a good interesting class I complemented them. I think everybody needs to be complimented and have a pat on the back. I don't care who it is, you need it. If they have an attractive room, many class teachers had very attractive rooms and work at it. And other ways, I think sometimes, that the Principal and Assistant Principal could have a dinner or coffee and donuts for teachers and even going down to the lounge, they don't mind I don't think for you to sit down sometimes and have coffee and donuts or something and I think that is a way to ah to build up your leadership with them and your rapport with them.
Q: Thank you. Please discuss the way in which you were chosen for your first administrative role, as well as any subsequent assignments.
A: Well, as I said my first assignment was by the Superintendent of schools and I was the only Assistant Principal in Tazewell County at the time that had a Administrative Degree and a Master's Degree. And I was assigned, asked to take the Assistant Principal's job at Richlands High School and of course I have had four other Principal jobs in the area since then and I was moved to Cedar Bluff for three years, I was moved to Richlands Elementary for two years, Richlands Junior High School for nine years, I set up the program for that. And then of course Richlands Middle School, which was the biggy as you would say. In 1976, I had a real rough year because I was closing out a Junior High School and trying to set up a program for a brand new middle school. So, I feel like, that my job was good enough and I did well enough that my School Board members had confidence in me to move me and the Superintendent.
Q: Some writers recommend that principals adjust their leadership styles to meet the individual needs of their staff. How do you feel about that idea and to what extent did you practice individualized leadership?
A: In my case, I had a variety of experiences as Principal. I was an Assistant Principal of a large high school. I was a Principal of two elementary schools. I was Principal of a junior high school, then I was Principal at Richlands Middle School. And I feel like these experiences helped me to become a good leader or Principal. Also, the more, there's one thing about this whether you notice or not elementary school faculties are a little different than Junior High faculties and Middle School faculties or high school facilities. And Sometimes, teachers I feel like, think it is more prestigious to be a high school senior teacher, then it is to be a first grade teacher. I think they feel like it is a status symbol, but a Principal has to learn that your faculty for an elementary school, most likely will be more females than males. As you move up the ladder you get more and more men involved in it, until you get to high school and probably sometimes you will have more men than females. So you have a different faculty and you have to learn how that faculty is going to react.
Q: Some principals hold the view that teachers and other staff members are, in general, well-motivated and reliable self-starters. Other principals feel that they must closely monitor the activities of their employees to insure that they are preforming "to standard". What supervisory approach did you customarily use during your career as a principal?
A: Conference with teachers, probably with the teachers, usually you have a teacher that you put in charge, the head teacher of a department or so forth and you try to meet with those heads every once in awhile, so that you can see what is going on and if you need, a conference with a single teacher. Same way with custodians, you have a head custodian and you meet with them once in awhile and cafeteria workers, you always have a head worker. Ah then probably another thing is evaluation of persons in charge, the people who are in charge, the head of departments, evaluate those to see if they are doing their job. And if they are doing their job, then the teachers under them are probably doing their job. Then in school meetings, and of course we had them every Thursday for in-service and so forth and these things would come up. So I don't feel like I had to monitor that close all the time because you know what is going on if your department heads and head custodian and head cafeteria worker is doing their job.
Q: Right. One model of leadership describes people as either assertive, supportive, or contemplative. Would you please categorize yourself and give your reasons for this assignment?
A: I feel like I was more supportive, than I would be - assertive or contemplative. I let all of the personnel know I was there to help. My office was always open, friendly, you've got to be friendly with them, you gotta be supportive. If they need something that you can help them to acquire or anything, I did it. And, so anyway I just feel like anything they needed and support, office open, those are the things you need to do.
Q: Sounds like you were a very supportive principal. Since you have now had time to reflect on your career, I wonder if you would share with us what you consider to be your administrative strengths and weaknesses.
A: I feel like my weakness was writing skills. I majored in mathematics and physics, had some industrial arts and ah. When I was in college I didn't have the classes required for speech and writing skills. I only took one semester of college grammar and one semester of speech. So I feel like probably my writing skills were very weak. I'm a poor writer. I'm left-handed, when I started to school 60 years ago there was no such thing as a left-handed person. Everybody had to learn to write with their right hand. So, I never learned to write very well, being left-handed. So, I feel like writing skills and being able to write a book. I did not write a thesis in college at West Virginia University because of that problem. I was allowed to go an extra semester and take extra classes to compensate for writing a thesis and that's what I did. Probably, I feel like my strengths were to get along with people. I don't know if I had an enemy or not, I hope not. Ah I was called on many, many times as a Principal to talk to civics organizations. I talked to a lot of them about my school and funny things that happened in school, I wish I had wrote a book on that, sometimes (laughter) you know some funny things can happen to you as a teacher or Principal. I felt like I got along well with my teachers, parents, my PTA's. I set up a PTA at the old Richlands Junior High. We didn't have one. And ah, so I feel like PTA's and the ability to get along with your parents is very important.
Q: Right. Would you give us an overall comment on the pros and cons of administrative service, and any advice you would wish passed along to today's principals?
A: My first statement probably be knowledgeable in as many fields as you possible can. It helped me because I was qualified to teach in five fields and I taught in all those fields. So, therefore, coaching, physical education, shop, biology, math, chemistry, physics, and science. And I knew those fields pretty well, so I could walk into a classroom and know what was going on. And you have to let people know you are in control, you have to be in control. But, you can do it, as I said once before, supportive, friendly, and supportive. You don't have to be assertive all the time. Also I would say, as a Principal, if you are going into it, whether you are gonna be a Superintendent or not, take school law and school finance. You will need it.
Q: Mr. Grimm, despite my best efforts to be comprehensive in my questioning, there is probably something I have left out. What have I not asked you that I should have?
A: Seemed like we covered it pretty good. Ah, I'm just trying to think. I enjoyed my years. I did, the 13 years I was a teacher and coach. And the 24 years as a principal. I enjoyed those years. Even though I've been retired now 15 years, I still miss the teachers and students and all of the activities that go with it.
Q: Mr. Grimm, as my former principal and a professional I admire. I would like to thank you for sharing your experiences of the principalship. Your experiences will benefit others in the future. Thank you.
A: Thank you.
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