Interview with Joe Good


Retired Principal of Rockville High School, Montgomery County, Maryland.

| Back to "G" Interviews | Index of Interviews | Protocol | Home |

Q: Is it Mr. Good or Dr. Good?

good audio (Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)

A: It's Mr. Good.

Q: It's Mr. Good who is the retired principal of Rockville High School, which is just down the road. I am here to ask you a few questions and we are here basically to talk. The first question, Mr. Good, I would like to ask you is how do you think your college education prepared you to be a principal of a high school?

A: Well, you know it goes back to when I was a kid.

Q: Okay.

A: My dad was a coal miner. And one of the things he always said, he says your not going into the coalmines. He said you're going to be a teacher. I said okay. So I was all set to come to California State Teachers and become a teacher. So it's been in my mind from very young that I was going to be a teacher, not a coal miner.

Q: Right.

A: So I was fortunate enough to be an athlete. So I played in a small school in Western Pennsylvania.

Q: What sports?

A: Right outside of Union Town. So I played football, basketball, and baseball, but my main emphasis was football. So we had a gentleman that graduated from my high school that went to Villanova, and not only was he a good base football player but he was a good baseball player and played for the Philadelphia Phillies. His name was Freddie Stoviak. And he came in one day and he said Joe, he says how would you like to go to Villanova. So I say sure, any place. Any place except California State Teachers.

Q: Right.

A: So a friend of mine, I hope this doesn't take too much timeŠ

Q: No, go ahead. Please.

A: So a friend of mine had a priest as a, his uncle was a priest. And he says I am going to take you down to Duquesne, and he says I'm going to introduce you to the football coach. That's my buddy. So John says, Joe do you want to go along? I says hey anything to get out of school sure. So we asked the principal and he said sure go ahead. So went down to Duquesne and John was introduced to the head coach. And the offices was in the gymnasium. So I'm looking down and watching basketball practice. So the assistant coach comes up and says hey do you play football, son? I say yes sir. He says would you be interested in coming to Duquesne? I says no way. I say I am going to Villanova. So he says oh well we'll see, we'll see. So he says just fill this out. He says just for information. So I fill it out. So it wasn't too long before I get a call. I lived in a little coal mining town call Collier. One telephone in the entire town. So he says hey you got a call from Pittsburgh. Oh boy you know that was a big deal in a little coal-mining town like that. So when he says, this coach his name was Buff Donelli, Buff says I'm coming in the neighborhood, and he says I would like to talk to you. So I says okay. So he came in, and I am down in the ball ground playing baseball with the guys and Dad's up in the house. So he stopped, of course, to talk to Dad. So it wasn't very long that he found out where Dad's interest was. And Dad's interest was baseball. So Buff says you know if he comes down to Duquesne, he says not only will he play football, but he says he'll play baseball. He says you know where he's going to play baseball? He says he is going to play baseball in Forbes Field. My son playing baseball in Forbes Field? Okay. Yes indeed. SoŠ

Q: So you're going to Duquesne.

A: So there's no way where I'm going. I'm going to Duquesne. So sure enough I went to Duquesne. So I played, I was on a football scholarship down at Duquesne. So that's where I got my education. At Duquesne.

Q: Did you study teaching down there?

A: Oh yes, I was in education. Well I was in Arts and Sciences. And it was very obvious, I mean that when you go in to there freshman are taken over by the Upper Classmen.

Q: Right.

A: He says Joe come here. He says you don't want Arts and Sciences. You want to get into education. Of course what happens was, I am sure the coaches told them, because Arts and Sciences, we had all of the lab work and everything else which conflicted with football practice. You can't interfere with football practice. What comes first, you know? So I switched to education which was a good move. And of course I graduated, I didn't graduate from education. I got to service in my second semester of my senior year. So Buff called everybody together, he says now I don't want you guys to get drafted or anything else. I'm going to take care of it. He says all of you are going to go into the Naval Reserve. Naval Reserve. Don't worry about that. Navy? I don't want the Navy. So I took off from practice and I went down to the post office and I signed up for the Air Corps cause I wanted to be a pilot.

Q: Right.

A: So that's exactly what I did. These guys with the Naval Reserve, they left, and I'm still around. Not very long, but we finished the football season. Everybody finished the football season. And I went into service. Four years. I was a pilot in the Air Force. So I served in New Guinea, and went up to Enduro, and I went up to Tozan, and I went to Okinawa. And we came back. I got to tell you this story. Then we came back from Okinawa to Clarkfield, right outside Manila. So we were, I was in C-46's at the time. What we were going to do, we were going to tow gliders into Kyshushu. We were going to invade Japan through Kyshushu. So what we were going to do was to tow gliders and take them in. So there we were practicing our take-offs and landings and what have you. So I took off this one time and we're coming in for our landing and I see and it looks like the Fourth of July. I mean everything is shooting at me. I says what on earth is going on down there? They guy says didn't you hear? I says didn't what? The guys says it's the end of the war. That's when they dropped the atomic bomb.

Q: Right.

A: So then we found out later then, man they were ready for us. There was no way we would escape that, because the C-47 C-46 is a big lumbering airplane. And we were towing a glider behind us with probably Marines or ammunition and what have you. And we probably going 100 miles an hour, if we were going that.

Q: Right.

A: Which was awfully, awfully slow you know. So they were ready for us. So we found all that out. So they talk about the atomic bomb, man.

Q: You're still around.

A: I says that's the best thing to happen as far as I'm concerned. So that, I'm sorry.

Q: That's okay.

A: That's my story. And of course, I went back.

Q: To Duquesne?

A: Well, when I was in service, I got a letter from the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. I says, oh man, that's my life. I'm going to be a pro football player. So when I was ready to come back, the commanding officer called us all in. He says, listen he says you guys stay one more time, one more time. He says I'll up you grade. I was a first lieutenant at the time. He says you'll be a captain. And he says were going from C-46's to C-54's. Well the C-46 is a two-engine plane. The C-54 is a four-engine plane, which was unheard of. I say hey captain, no way. I'm going to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So I came home May of 46. And I went to camp. Hey four years in service, if I couldn't play. I play halfback. And I wasn't bad I guess. You know I could run; I could kick. I was a good punter. And I could pass. Hey I couldn't pass; I couldn't kick; I couldn't run. I says oh forget about it. So I went back to Duquesne and finished my education. When I went to Duquesne, they needed a freshman football coach. So he says, Joe, how about being the freshman football coach? So I said sure. So it was my first touch of coaching. I loved it. I loved coaching. So sure enough, I coached the freshman football team at Duquesne. And I got my education. Of course I was on the GI Bill too so.

Q: Right.

A: I didn't have to worry about that. I came home, and Helen and I got married in December of 46. So we went on our honeymoon up to New York. So when we were in New York, in the meantime I told my dad, I says were getting married. I don't have a job. I don't have anything. I don't even have my diploma yet, because at that time, graduation wouldn't be until the middle of January. Here it was December 28th. That's when we got married. So I went back. On our honeymoon, we stopped at Duquesne. I says were married. I says I think I'm maybe going to get a job. He says don't worry about it, don't worry about it, we'll take care of everything. I said okay. So, sure enough, I get a telegram. Report to work January second, You're the math teacher at Georges Township High School. That's where we graduated from. So we cut our honeymoon short, and we came home. And I stopped again at Duquesne and talk to (?), and they said don't worry about it, don't worry about it. So sure enough they gave me a diploma. And I had, oh, two weeks to go, you know.

Q: Right.

A: So I went back to Georgestown. I was the only Math teacher in Georges Township. So I had everything from grades nine through twelve. I went into the main office, this is an interesting story too, I went into the main office, and he say Joe you know where T-102 is, don't you? I says yeah. He says here, here's you keys, he says. Go down to T-102. I had no idea what I was teaching' I didn't know what grades or anything else. The kids would come in, I'd say what do you have this time? He said Algebra I. Okay, get your Algebra I book. What page are we on? And that's the way it went all the way through. So, I taught five periods oh nine through twelve mathematics. That was my introduction to teaching.

Q: Did you coach there too?

A: Well, I had a friend. He was real close to me. Of course we're all friends. It was my hometown.

Q: Right

A: So, he says Joe. He says, he says how about helping' me coaching'? I says sure. So I helped him in football and basketball. And I says John. I says I'd like to be head coach. He says Joe he says how 'bout me keeping' football and you take basketball. I said you're the head coach, I said okay. So, I was the basketball coach. I had no idea how to coach basketball. So, Chip Davies was the head coach of Duquesne. He was a famous coach there and he took the Duquesne to the NIT several times. That was big time at the time. The NIT was big. It was bigger than the NCAA at the time.

Q: Right, right.

A: So, I says Chip. I says I got this, I got this head-coaching job. I said I don't know anything about drills, defense offense or anything. He was so great, he took me aside. He just taught me everything that I, that was to be known for a high school coach. So, I was pretty successful. We, we always played; Georges always played Union Town. Georges was a class B school. And Union town was a class Double A school. So, we of course what it was was a warm up for Union Town. So we went in there and played Union Town at Union Town. And we beat 'em. Oh man, I'm telling' you. We had a special assembly and everything else.

Q: You celebrated.

A: Oh yeah, celebrated. Hey, nobody beats Union Town. Yeah, they're the biggies. They used to go, they used to go to the state. In fact several times if they didn't take the states they were runners up. They were great contenders. So, we beat them. So, that was my introduction to coaching.

Q: Right.

A: So, uh how that came down. Well, after three children were born. I says, honey there's nothing, nothing in the bank. We've got to do something. She had a brother that lived up in Detroit and a sister that lived down in Falls Church. I said which way do you want to go? She said let's go down to Washington D.C. So I came down with the idea of getting into the government. So, sure enough I took the test. And I says how long will it be before I get a job? He says well gee, about three to four months before we can place you. I said, three or four months! I got three kids, how in the world am I gonna make a living? So, I asked my brother-in-law, what do you think about teaching around here? He said let's go to Montgomery County, I think they're hiring in Montgomery County. So, sure enough I get a job. I get interviewed. This guy was an ex-coach. So, we hit it off.

Q: You hit it off right away.

A: His name was Willard Schumacker. He was a principal at Kensington Junior High. So, I he says come on Joe, he says I'll take you to Kensington Junior High. I says what am I gonna teach. Here I was in Georges Township. You know I taught everything from Algebra I. Well actually from ninth grade arithmetic through at that time twelfth grade was trigonometry and solid geometry. And here I am teaching' seventh and eighth grade arithmetic. I said oh man, seventh and eighth grade arithmetic, and I was out of coaching too. So, I spent two years at Kensington Junior High teaching seventh and eighth grade arithmetic. Oh man, I says this has got to cease. I can't, I can't take this. So, Dave Carrasco, was the athletic director at Montgomery-Blair, where my wife and I had a summer recreation job. So, he says how about being, we need a J.V. Football Coach at Blair. How 'bout coming to Blair. I says sure. I'd be very happy to come to Blair. I said in fact, I'd even sweep your floors if you want me to. Just get me out of this junior high school. It's driving me nuts.

Q: No more seventh and eighth grade math.

A: Oh yeah, I couldn't take it any more, I think it was a lot of things, a combination. We moved down from my hometown to move down here. We lived in an apartment in Langley Park. And teaching seventh and eighth grade arithmetic, it was all right. I wasn't coaching. I was the assistant coach of football. I was the head basketball coach and we had good teams. And they made me be the baseball coach. Anything to get a couple of bucks.

Q: Right.

A: I coached baseball for $75 a year, and I thought that was great. Well anyway we came down here and I was the JV Coach, and I had Algebra, Algebra II, and Plain Geometry. And the principal was Daryl Shaw, great guy, just a super guy. He says Joe, he says my coaches only teach four classes. He says but we didn't get any pay. And what we did after the football games we would sweep the stadium and we got five bucks for it. So that was our pay. We got five bucks. Hey five bucks wasn't bad at that time, especially when the kids needs shoes, you know.

Q: Right.

A: So that's what I did. I taught Algebra II and I taught Plain Geometry. And it was four classes a day. And then from there. Am I going too long?

Q: No you're going great.

A: Okay. And then the head coach was a guy by the name of Conrad Brown. And he decided he wanted to go with Marriott. So he gave up the head coaching football job, and went with Marriott. That gave me the head coach. So I was the head coach at Montgomery-Blaire from 1957 to 1962. I'm not bragging but we had good, good kids. Tommy Brown who went with the Green Bay Packers. Bobby Windsor who went with the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49er's. A kid by the name of Sunny Jackson. He didn't go on to football, but he played for the Atlanta Braves. He played short stop. In fact, I was watching television one day, and he says that the coach was from San Francisco. And he was the third base coach for San Francisco. And I said gee, he's really moving up in the world. So those are some of the kind of kids that I had at Montgomery-Blaire.

Q: Right. Good crew.

A: Oh tremendous. My first year of head coach, going in the last game we were 8 0, 8-0, and your asking me about being a principal and I'm telling you about coaching.

Q: That's okay, we'll get there.

A: So 8-0, we are playing the last game BCC at Blaire. And the game before BCC played Walter Johnson. Walter Johnson beat them. And we smashed Walter Johnson. We smashed then. So I said hey man this is it, we're going to win. A guy by the name of Al Suduski, Al just died recently, He was 87 seven years old, he was the dean of football coaching at that particular time at BCC. He came over and he tromped me. He beat me 31 to 14. I'll never forget that as long as I live. That was a real waking up. You know cause he was prepared. He was ready. I wasn't. You know, I thought hey were going to take this

Q: You thought you were going to win.

A: Oh yeah. So that's athletics. But I went from there, and the principal called me in and he said Joe we need a counselor. He said would you like to go into counseling? I said counseling, what's counseling? He said well you go to the University of Maryland and you get yourself certified. He says then you'll be a counselor. I says okay. So I went to the University of Maryland to get certified. Of course, I got my Masters Degree at West Virginia University, so I had some guidance. And so I got certified in counseling. So I was a counselor for a couple of years. And then Daryl opened up Walt Whitman. And he says Joe, how about coming with me to Whitman as an assistant principal. Assistant principal, I says I' not certified. He says go to the University of Maryland, get a couple of administrative course, and we'll take care of that. So sure enough that's what I did. I went to the University of Maryland and got a couple of administrative course and went to Walt Whitman. And we opened up Walt Whitman in 1962. So Daryl was the principal. I was the assistant principal, and a guy by the name of Al Vogt was the other assistant principal. So we had two assistant principals. So we opened up Walt Whitman in 1962. So Daryl, when he was a kid, had polio. So winters were rough for him, real rough. So what he would do, he would take off and go down to Florida. Because the doctor said go down to the warm climate, get in the water and it will be better for you. So sure enough, that's what he would do. He would take off for a couple of months during the winter, and who was running the school, you know the assistant principals. So I says, hey, I think I can run a school. So I says, I went and put my application in to be a principal. And I was interviewed at several places, a couple of junior high schools. More junior high schools than anything else. I was interviewed at Sherwood. And you know, nothing happened. So a guy by the name of Dr. Joe Tarallo was the deputy superintendent at the time. So he and I went to the same church, so I knew him pretty well. So I says Joe I says I think I am moving back into the junior high. He says why. I says there are more openings in the junior high than there is in the senior high. I says if I'm in a junior high, maybe I'll have a better chance. He says Joe don't worry, he says you're on the list. I says okay. I'm on the list; I'm on the list. So in the mean time they are building Rockville High School. So I learned about Rockville High School. It was going to be a vocational school. I don't have any vocational education. So I says I won't even be considered for Rockville High School. So Dick Ahlberg was our area superintendent. So Dick says hang in there Joe, just hang in there. So sure enough, I'm standing her drying the dishes and the phone rings. It was Dick Ahlberg. He says, Joe, he says guess what? I said what. He says they made you principal at Rockville High School. I says you're kidding me. He says no. You're the new principal at Rockville High School. Well you know if you went to an established school you could see. You could understand. Here I am a brand new, you know I don't have no experience.

Q: You've never been a principal.

A: I've never been a principal. I'm an assistant principal. And here they are, they're making principal of a brand-new high school, brand new high school‹no established faculty. The building is not even finished yet. I said okay. So they sent me to a school outside of Philadelphia. I can't remember the name, but it was a combination of a junior and senior high school. Well we were going to start out with grades nine and ten. That's how we started out Rockville High School. So this school that I went to was nine through twelve. So he says, why don't you get some of your resource teachers and make a trip up to Philadelphia and see what this is all about. Now I says hey, wait a minute. I don't even have teacher one yet. Well, he says, you can work with personnel and interview some of these guys and decide who you want to have as resource teachers. So of course in my mind I pretty much knew because at Whitman we had some pretty good teachers. And I lived in the county now for several, several years. So I knew the county pretty well, and I knew who was good and who wasn't so good.

Q: Right.

A: So I had some favorites. So, of course, Wood was also a feeder to Rockville. In fact, not Wood but Broome. Broome was the only, well Broome and they hadŠ I forget the other one. We had two feeders. So I got a math teacher who was from Sherwood High School. His name was Charlie Whittaker. I got the English teacher from Old Whitman High School, whom I knew, naturally I knew because he was a teacher there. My social studies teacher was from Richard Montgomery. He was going for history and I thought very, very highly of him. And my science teacher was from Broome, by the name of Jim Brown. Jim was a real fine science teacher. He turned out to be a real good resource teacher as well. So those are the guys we went together, we went to Philadelphia to observe this school. And sure enough we got a lot of good ideas. They had a flexible schedule up there that we adopted. And what it was it was increments of forty-five minutes. So we had, for example, we had a seven period day. So a seven period say, and we arranged it in such a way that sometimes it would be a single period for forty-five minutes and sometimes it would be a double period which would be ninety minutes. And what we would do, we would alternate it in such a way that you, you would have certain days where you would have a double period and certain days where you would have a single period. So you could plan for it. But what we would do, we would alternate the periods. Period one was not always period one. Period one may be at the middle of the day or it may be at the end of the day. So we do it, and the teachers liked it. The teachers really enjoyed it, because it was different. In other words, every day at 10 o'clock you wouldn't have study hall. Maybe, or study period or planning period, maybe you planning period might be the next day maybe two to three. Things like that, so it varied.

Q: Flexible.

A: It was very flexible. And I thought maybe I would get some flack because of this. Of course we all talked about this. I mean it wasn't my idea, we all kind of worked this thing out together. So as a result, they enjoyed it. They liked it. So grades nine and ten, and next year we were grades nine and ten and eleven. So we went the second year. Now the third year, we were nine through twelve. And we had a graduating class. And we had such programs as WOC, Work Oriented Curriculum. You would have kids be in school half a day and they would work half a day. And we had a C-WE program, which was more or less the same thing but it was commercial. The kids would go to different commercial work. Well, I getting ahead of myself because you don't know what brought the old (?) or maybe even now. But we had three separate wings. And one of the wings was federally funded, with the idea that it would always be a vocational school. So what did we have; we had carpentry. We had electricity. We had air conditioning. We had cabinet making. We had, for the girls, we had food services. We had the home arts. We had child development. So we had a variety, plus commercial, old commercial courses. That was housed in the building. So as a result, these kids would have this training. And what they would do, they would come in for half a day and they would go out. They would go out on the job. Incidentally, every year, every year Rockville High School would build a house. The first year the Board of Education gave us enough money to buy a lot. So we got a lot and the kids built it from scratch all the way up and sold it. And what would happen, we would go in and buy another lot. That's the way it would sell.

Q: Right.

A: So as a result, these kids got some valuable experience. And of course the same thing with child development. You know they brought the kids in from the community. You know, gee whiz, we always had half a dozen, a dozen, two dozen kids. You know right there in that child development, that place there. And as a result, you know very practical experience for the kids. And it went on and on and on. So as a result we couldn't stick with the original schedule. We had to go back to a traditional kind of schedule. We were always seven period day, always seven period day. Long as I was principal, we were always a seven period day. They may have switched it. In fact, I think it is seven period days throughout the county now. But we were one of the first schools to have the seven period day. It paid off many, many dividends. So as a result, that's how we got it moving around. I talked too much.

Q: No that's fine. But tell me; tell me you opened up a new high school. You recruit these teachers. Obviously, you have some relationships built up. What is your style?

A: Well I'll tell you what, it wasŠ Those days, I shouldn't say that, but for as far as I was concerned, I had a lot of freedom. I worked very closely with personnel. They would give me some names. And of course I had some names. And if I had somebody I wanted to hire, I would certainly work through personnel because they were the ones who did the hiring and the firing by the way. So as a result we worked very closely with personnel. I would go up there and I would study left and right what their backgrounds were and so forth and so on. And of course, when it came to hiring you can't beat a face to face interview. You know, that's a must. And as a result you get a pretty good fell for a person. You know my theory was, hey do you like kids. And if you don't like kids you shouldn't be in the game.

Q: Right.

A: So as a result, you kind of get a feel when you're interviewing the teachers. You think this guy likes kids of is he just in the game to make money or what have you? So you know it's a lot of intuition that you might have that will tell you yeah you are going to be a good teacher. I was blessed. I had a good faculty. It turned out that maybe it was me. Maybe it was personnel. Maybe it was the two of us. I don't know. But I was well pleased with my teaching staff. The ones I hired, of course there were teachers you had to take also from personnel and sometimes believe it or not they didn't turn out so well. Because what happened is, and I can see personnel too. Here's this guy having trouble at X school. So let's put him in Y school and maybe he can do better. He's not going to do better. You know what they should do is axe him, but it's not that easy. So you got to work with them. So and you do the best you possible can. One time they put an assistant principal in there which I didn't think was going to be particularly good. He wasn't even certified. He wasn't even certified. So I brought him in, and I says what do you think you want to do? He says I want to be a principal one of these days. I said you want to be a principal? I says you got to get certified. And I says you're not even certified. I said your not even certified to be a teacher, I says let alone be an administrator. He says what do I do? I go back to old Daryl you know.

Q: The University of Maryland.

A: Go to the University of Maryland. Get yourself certified. So sure enough that's what he did. I did two things. I did him a favor, and I did myself a favor.

Q: So he left?

A: Yeah, he left. But he did. He got certified. And believe it or not, he came back in the county and he moved up the ladder. Yeah. So you never know.

Q: How long were you at Rockville High School?

A: Fourteen years. I was there; we opened up in 1968 grades as I said grades nine and ten. And I stayed there for fourteen years. And I enjoyed every bit of it.

Q: How would you define yourself as a leader of that building?

A: I, as a principal, I think what I did was to give the resource teachers, for example, pretty much their freedom. The assistant principals, they had their jobs and I let them alone. I mean they had their own autonomy. I wasn't about to, if had had to wield the big stick naturally; hey I'm the man. For example, I had a kid that came in, transferred from another school. And he was a problem. And he came in to my school and it wasn't very long afterwards I got a complaint from some of the kids. They says Mr. Good this guy is really hassling us. We come out of the line, if we have any change or anything he says he makes us give it to him. I said no. He says yeah. I says I going to come down to see it. So instead of giving that to the assistant principal or there was always teachers down there on cafeteria duty, I went down there myself just to observe. So sure enough I see this kid, and he I says hey what are you doing? He says F you. I says what did you say? So he said it again. So I says you come with me. So I grabbed him by the arm, and I took him to the office. I says we're going to call you mother. We're going to get this thing straightened out once and for all. There's no way you are going to act like this in this school. So he got lose. He ran out of the school. I haven't seen him since. But what I'm trying to say is that there are certain things that the principal has to do. And there are certain things you give to the assistant principals of the resource teachers or the teacher and hey you leave them alone. And I found out that it did the job. We met. Of course we had our faculty meetings. And I still remember the early faculty meetings. We had the liberals and we had the conservative, you know. And the liberals sat over here. And the conservatives sat over here. And they would have it. You know, it was good therapy. They would say what they wanted. Of course, the last decision is up to the big boss, you know. But we did, we of course always met with the resource teachers and the departmental chairs periodically. And of course we had personnel coming in with their problems. And we would discuss again our problems and how we viewed it and what has to be done and see if they can't help out. And so it was a good mutual reaction between teachers and administrators and resource teachers.

Q: What was your relationship with the superintendents during those years?

A: Good. Real good. It just so happens that Homer. Homer Elseroad, was an exceptional superintendent. I don't think anybody had any hard feelings with him. But I was so fortunate because Harry Pitt and I were assistant principals at Walt Whitman together. So I got to know Harry real well as an assistant principal. Of course he didn't stay there long. He went to Sherwood. Then from Sherwood he went to the central office, and then he became the superintendent. So Harry and I had a real good relationship. And the other superintendents, Harry stayed two terms I think, two terms. So after Elseroad, it was Whittier. I didn't get to know Whittier all that well. But Charlie Bernardo, I had a counselor they placed at my school. And he came up to me after the first year, he wasn't, I was not happy with him at all. And he came up to me and he says, Joe let me go into the Lincoln Park area during the summer months. And he says, what are you going to do? Well he says, I'll go and talk to them about summer jobs. And those kids going to college, I'll go and talk to them about going to college. And I'll talk to them about careers. I says gee, that sounds great. I says here's what you do. I says you go in there and I says every Friday, you hand to me the people you met with, what you talked about, and what's you general opinion. He says okay, I'll do that. So the first Friday came, nothing. The second Friday came, nothing. The third Friday came, nothing. Then I got a phone call from the District. They says do you have so and so on your staff? I says yeah. They says when is he supposed to work? I said well he is supposed to work all summer. What's his hours? I says regular. He says you know I got that guy on my staff too, and he is supposed to be working the same hours. I says has he shown up for you? He says no. Has he shown up for you? I says, I don't know. I says he is supposed to be over here in Lincoln Park and he supposed to give me these write-ups every Friday and he's not doing it. He says well you better look into it. So sure enough, he wasn't. I don't know where he was. He wasn't in Lincoln Park and he wasn't with this guy. I don't know what he was supposed to do down at the District. So he came up for tenure. I called him in and I says no way can I give you tenure. I says I can't hire or fire you, but certainly I can recommend or not recommend. And I says I'm not recommending you for tenure. He says well I'm going to take it to the board. I says well that's your prerogative. So he took it to the board. Well the hearing was set for whatever date it was. And he came in and he wasn't represented. He came in without representation. Cause that's part of the union rules. You got a complaint; you got to be represented by somebody, a lawyer or somebody.

Q: Right.

A: So they had to reset it. They reset the schedule and of course the union appointed somebody to come in and sit down. So he presented his case, and I presented my case. And we left. So the guy that was in charge of personnel says, Joe, good presentation. There's no way he's going to get tenure. So I get a phone call the next day, and he says I think I am going to put the guy on probation. I says Charlie, probation? My faculty would have my head. I says this guy is no good. I says he doesn't do anything. Well, his wife, Charlie's wife, was in charge of audio education. And she had, I don't know how many kids there, two, three, or four. But what she had to do, she had to look at the schedule. So she had to come in the morning and she had to come in the afternoon. She says can I arrange it so I can come either in the morning or in the afternoon instead of coming in the morning then going some place and coming in the afternoon? I says hey see the counselor. Have it changed. I says I don't have any big problems with it. So she came in, and of course, this guy was the counselor. And she couldn't find him. She says where's your counselor? I says you tell me. So she come in the next day, she says where's your counselor? I says you tell me. And that's the way it wen on for almost a week. So Charlie went home and he talked to his wife. He says I think I am going to put this guy on probation. She says are you kidding? She says do you know my experience with this guy? So she told him her experiences. So the next day he's fired. So you talk about superintendents. It wasn't what I said. It was what she said.

Q: She had some power.

A: So sure enough he got the axe. So it was kind of an interesting situation.

Q: What do you think about teacher training at the college level? Are teachers coming into schools prepped to be teachers?

A: Well, you know you have some good ones and you have some bad ones. But the experience I had was that they were all pretty good kids. And we had our share, and I didn't get into it as much as I would have liked to. Because again, here we are with the resource teacher. That was their responsibility. So they went in there. Of course if we needed a teacher, actually I would go and observe. But most of the time, you know it was the resource teacher that worked closely with the teacher and the team.

Q: How did you manage the bureaucracy of the public school? Did you find red tape a lot, too much paperwork?

A: There's always too much paperwork. But you know that's the job, that's the job. So it really never bothered me. You know you grip and you say this and you say that, but you go ahead and you do it. And you have good secretaries and good assistant principals and good counselors. And you kind of divvy the work up and it gets done.

Q: It sounds like as a leader, you really listened to the staff that you picked.

A: Yes, I had a good relationship with the staff, with the faculty. I had a good relationship with my assistant principals. I had good assistant principals. I'm not saying they were all good. But my first one, well who are you going to chose for assistant principal? Of course what they did, as I told you it was supposed to be a vocational but it wasn't a vocational school. That was for the birds. But as far as what we had, it was great. You know I highly recommend senior high schools to incorporate something like we had because it satisfies so many different kinds of kids. But as far as the assistant principals are concerned, they didn't give me an assistant principal with a vocational background. They put a teacher in who was a mechanical drawing teacher with the idea that he would become an assistant principal. And if I had anything in that particular area, I would go to him. And he wasn't an assistant principal per say, but he was kind of an acting assistant principal if there is such a (?). So I would go to him and of course it was just in its infancy, so there weren't that many problems. So eventually he was an assistant principal. He lasted one year because his in-laws had a brick factory in Cumberland. And he was supposed he did take over the factory. So he was only with me for one year. But we found out it wasn't necessary to have anybody then because the guy who was the departmental chair or the resource teacher was the assistant principal. Let's face it. That's what encompassed his responsibility. So we got my first interview of an assistant principal was a lady by the name of Bonnie Fox. And she says that that was her life long ambition to be an assistant principal. She was a teacher at (?). And I was most impressed with her. And I hired her as an assistant principal and she was great. She was just a superb person. Tough, real tough, There was, something happened, I forget what it was, she had him in the office. And she wouldn't let him out until he admitted what he did was wrong. And she had to go out for I don't know what it was and the kid was in her office. He opened up the window and jumped out the window.

Q: he had to get away from her.

A: He had to get away from her. She would just look at you; she would look at you. She was just great. And she became principal at Seneca Valley. Now she's a principal at a Jewish School over there on Montrose. That is where she is right now. She is the principal there.

Q: You were saying about Jerry Lynch.

A: Yeah Jerry was my assistant principal and then he moved up to the central office. He moved right up there. All of them were exceptional. Jim Heins became principal at Sherwood, and excellent, excellent person. And I had Peggy Keller. Peg's in accounting or some place. She's probably retired by now. You know it's been eighteen years, buddy, I've been retired. I retired in 82.

Q: Right. You think the central office helped or hindered you as a principal. I know, it seems like you had a real good relationship.

A: Oh yeah, oh yeah. No I have nothing against central office. You need a central office. And you know when you get into some tight scrapes, you depend on them. They come through. As I tell you about it. As you probably suspect, he was black. He got fired in my office, and I look out the window and I see all these cars coming. Across the street there's a church, and a big parking lot there. All these people at the same time get out of their cars. They come marching across my parking lot. And my office is here and right outside the office is a flagpole. So they are marching around the flagpole, marching around the flagpole. And they're enticing the black kids to come out and march with them, which they were reluctant to do but they go out march around the flagpole and come back in. Just to say that they marched around. So I got on the phone and I called Harry's office. And he says just play it cool we'll be there. And of course he says why don't you get on the PA and explain it and try and calm the kids down because everybody is looking out the window.

Q: Right.

A: I mean we can't keep anybody away. So I did. I got on the PA and tried to explain as much as possible. And to this day I really don't know who, but somebody pulled the fire alarm. That endedŠ

Q: That ended it?

A: That was the end of that. They wen across, they went into their cars and away they went. To this day I have somebody to thank. I have no idea who it was. I have a feeling it was probably one of the custodians that did it. I don't know. But it could have been anybody. Anybody could have pulled the fire alarm.

Q: Right.

A: But what a way to end the crisis.

Q: Central office probably didn't think about that one.

A: You might put that in your notes. This is one way to break it up.

Q: One way to break up a problem.

A: Yeah, yeah.

Q: What advice would you give to somebody moving up the ladder? Somebody who wants to move up the ladder?

A: Well, just from my experience, I learned form being a teacher. I learned from being a counselor. And I learned from being a coach. And I think I integrated all of those together, and it helped me. Now what would it do to anybody else? I don't know if these would be applicable to anybody. But to be an administrator, I think you have to be a classroom teacher. You got to know what's going into the classroom. You just have to. And I think that's the most valuable experience one can get. And you know you got to get certified.

Q: University of Maryland.

A: If you're not certified go to the University of Maryland and get certified. So you know its personality. You either have it or you don't have it. You know again, in essence the assistant principals I had, there were some that I knew there was no way you were going to hold them back. They're going to move up. They understood the school system. They understood the curriculum. They got along well with kids. They got along well with their fellow teachers. You know it's kind of inbred. But to prepare yourself, I think you best bet is to be as good a classroom teacher as you possibly can. You can't hide it. I recommend, you know the gal who is now in, she's making some headlines as far as the math curriculum is concerned, Nancy Metz. She was my math teacher. And there was no doubt in my mind she was going to move. She was an excellent, excellent teacher. But not only that, she had all these other characteristics that you are looking for as far as leadership is concerned. And she was likeable. She was a very likeable person. So yeah she moved right up.

Q: Do teachers pick up on principals as an instructional leader?

A: I think so. I think so because you know one of the jobs that we have is to go into observe. You know I observed all of my teachers. But I specifically had certain areas. But that doesn't say I had to stay with those areas, because I always wanted to see everybody in action. But as far as the assistant principals, say for example you're my assistant principal, your background is math and science. Well I'm going to give you math and science. You will observe the math and science teachers, and then you come see me, and talk to me and tell me what you think and so forth and so on. So that's how we did it. And I'm sure most all schools do it the same way. But also the resource teacher is responsible to go in and observe his teachers as well. And he gives me his. So I get feedback from the resource teacher, and I get feedback from the assistant principal. And I also go in and see the teacher. And you know if see a problem we go to work on it. And who works on it, the resource teacher.

Q: Right.

A: So I put a lot of faith and I picked the best possible resource teacher you can get. And if you don't have anybody, go out and look for somebody. But you've got to have good leadership, and you can't do it all yourself. There's no way that one person can run a school completely in all phases. You have got to get feedback from your resource teachers. Teachers also, along with getting it from teachers as well. But your resource teacher, you've really got to depend on them. You really got to depend on your assistant principals.

Q: That leads right into my last question. Can a principal run a school of 1900, 2000 student? Is that a possibility? I know high schools are growing especially in this area we have some high schools with 2000 students, is that a possibility or is that too big?

A: Well you have got to have one person who is the man. You have got to have a principal. And yes a principal can run 1500, 2000, 2500. You know I haven't run a 3000 school, but I was in a 3000 school. When I was at Blaire, and Daryl Shaw was the principal. And hey, he was the principal. There was no question about who was running the school. And the same thing at Rockville High School, Who's running the school? Joe Good' s running the school. But I can't run it myself. As I said before, you have got to be able to give out responsibilities. And you have got to pick people who you can rely on. If you can rely on them it makes your job much easier. I was blessed with having good people. And I think Daryl was too looking back at Montgomery Blaire while I was there. I wasn't assistant. I was a counselor. So I had a little bit into the administrative part of it. But just seeing him in action, as you probably suspect, I thought he was the greatest.

Q: You learned a lot from him?

A: Yes. Yes I did. He was a good man.

Q: Anything you want to add that I didn't ask, should have asked? Did you coach when youŠ

A: Yes.

Q: You did coach?

A: Oh yes. You mean as a principal?

Q: As a principal?

A: Oh no. As soon as I went into administration, I was done with that. I went from Blaire, believe it or not, I went from Blaire to Walt Whitman and I took a cut in salary. As a teacher to an assistant principal, you'd say hey man you're moving up.

Q: But it didn't happen?

A: But it didn't last long though because I said I had my buddies up at central office, Joe Tarallo and those guys. So the second year I was there I got a double increment, which put me again ahead of the game.

Q: Right. I appreciate you taking the time to answer questions about your employment.

| Back to "G" Interviews | Index of Interviews | Protocol | Home |