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Q: Mr. Hoover, when did you start teaching?
(Streamed audio file of interview for this question using RealPlayer)
A: In 1937 (laughter)
Q: And when did you retire?
Q: At what point did you become an administrator?
A: Uh, second year I taught I guess I became an administrator. I was principal of a two-room school.
Q: Did you have to teach as well as be an administrator?
A: Yes, indeed, I taught.
Q: How long were you in that situation?
A: Two years.
Q: Uh, while you were principal, what would you think was the greatest change you saw in your role in that job?
A: Uh, when I, when I started teaching school I had all the kids in one room and at the end of forty years I was back in a school that had all the kids in one room. So I guess that was probably the biggest change I saw. (laughter)
Q: Uh, so you were in an open school when you retired?
Q: Did you like that arrangement better than the self contained?
Q: Uh, any particular reasons?
A: Well, I felt like that you had too much interference from too many people in too close a confined area. Basically was the problem as I saw it.
Q: How did the children react to the open situation?
A: Well, the children, uh, I felt, I felt like the children were a little more restless than when they were in their own specific area would be my principle thinking.
Q: Do you think it affected their academic performance?
A: I'd say in some areas yes, in other areas I'd say it improved. Say, for example, in art, music, physical education I thought it was fine; but when it came down to reading and writing and spelling and arithmetic why I felt like there was a lot of disturbances that was, that was not conducive to their best attention and to their best learning.
Q: What do you think teachers expected of you as a principal? What did they want you to do?
A: Heaven only knows! Uh, well, I think basically the teachers expected leader ship. They expected, they expected me as a principal to direct. They felt, they felt like they wanted somebody who was in charge who they felt like was in charge so if there was a problem they knew where to go to at least try to get some answers.
Q: What types of problems did they bring to you?
A: Everything--discipline problems, emotional problems, uh bus problems, uh academic problems, you name it, health problems.
Q: Did you see any change over the years from the type of problems or concerns that you got from teachers or basically did it stay the same?
A: Problems pretty much stayed the same over the years. Uh, you probably had I'd say as the latter part of my experience you had more emotional problems than uh at the beginning of my experience. In other words, there seemed to be more broken homes or more one family homes or more one parent homes or you had a lot more emotional problems than you did when I first started teaching school.
Q: Uh, discipline problems, how did they change? What new type things did you have to deal with that maybe you didn't when you started out?
A: Uh, of course, you had transportation problems and you had more children and the more people you have together the more problems you have. Uh, I'd say I'd say basically, uh, the problems had were tied up with the emotional situation, uh, more than anything else. Uh, actually the problems, the problems, pretty much, pretty much the same over the years with the exception of the emotional aspect of the thing.
Q: Did you have, uh, any dealings with children using drugs? Did you have those type problems to handle? With drugs, with drug abuse?
A: No, uh, very, I'd say, I'd say, I had no experience with children with drugs. Smoking, yes. Uh, of course, I was a high-school principal for twelve years and the big problems there was smoking. Once in a while maybe a boy might take a drink, some of the older boys, but no, no drug problems other than smoking.
Q: So, you've been a principal, elementary and high school?
A: Elementary and secondary.
Q: Did you have a preference? Did you like one better than the other?
A: I enjoyed both of them. I really did. Uh, I liked the older kids, especially juniors and seniors. I also liked the little kids, too. I guess, I guess if I had to boil it down and take a preference, I believe I'd go with the elementary. Uh, (pause) I'd go with the elementary.
Q: Did you see differences in your duties or what was expected of you in the secondary level as opposed to the elementary?
A: Of course, I was a principal of a school many years ago and at that time the job was to, you just had a little bit of everything to do. You had teaching to do, you had coaching to do, you had supervision to do, whatever was involved to do you had it to do. Uh. as time went on, you got, you got more involved with paper. It was minutiae. You never got through with the paper work. You never had time to do your work. You were just doing paper work all the time.
Q: If you had to pick the thing you least liked about being a principal, would it have been the paper work?
A: Sure, it would have, sure. The thing I enjoyed most was the association with the children and with the teachers. That's where the joy was in the whole business. And, of course, when you got away from that, you really got away from the thing you really liked to do the best and the thing I felt like was what I was trying to do.
Q: 0.K., let's talk about your dealings with teachers, with personnel. Uh, was that a headache or a joy?
A: I'd say, probably fifty-fifty. I'd say part of it was joy and part of it was a headache. To find a good sincere dedicated teacher was a real challenge. If you found one, it was wonderful. If you didn't get one, it was a pain in the neck or worst. (laughter)
Q: What type things did you have to do in dealing with a teacher who did not meet the standard you had set for them?
A: Uh, basically, it was sitting down with a teacher and just going over the things you felt, that you felt, she needed to improve in. Pretty much laying it on the line.
Q: Did you usually get an improvement or ... Usually what did you do if you didn't?
A: Uh, if if it was, if the situation was bad enough, you might have to ask the teacher to look around for another year or maybe even before another year if you had a really bad situation. I've had situations where after maybe two or three weeks you just had to call a teacher in and say you're really not getting this job done and if it doesn't improve in the next week or so, you'll have to go and that's all there is to it. It's that simple and uh, uh, some teachers had to go in a month. We've had some teachers in Frederick County who didn't last more than about a month because because they just just didn't fit.
Q: Did you find it difficult to dismiss a teacher or tied up again in paperwork...
A: Well, you hate, you hate to see anybody fail who's trying to do something and sure it was, it was difficult and it was very distasteful. It was one of the things I certainly didn't like to do, but it was one of the things you had to do or you had to recommend to the superintendent and then you had to sit with the superintendent and you did it the two of you did it together which was basically the way it worked back when when I was in the principalship. Most of the teachers that you employed came to you uh. uh, for an interview. In other words, you sat down with the teachers and interviewed the teacher. And uh, uh, you and the superintendent, the supervisor evaluated and if you made a mistake, maybe it was all three of your mistake. And cause lots of time you were more or less on your own, and you had to decide. But it was, it was an unpleasant thing to have someone in a situation like that. It created a lot of problems in your school. I mean to tell you, you had all kinds of problems. You had problems in your classroom, you had problems on the playground, you had problems on your buses. You name it, you had problems with your parents and everything else.
Q: Do you think the procedure for hiring personnel was effective?
A: You said that sometimes you sat down with the superintendent or some other staff member. Yes, I liked that. The, uh, the superintendent, of course, as years went on we had, uh, uh, director of personnel and they brought applications out and they sent people down. You talked to them and then you got together and discussed the people. And, of course, before that time, why lots of time, uh, uh, you were kind of on your own. The superintendent said here's somebody who's looking for a job. I'll send him down and you can talk to him and if you like him, why we'll hire him. And, of course, as tim went on that changed and and usually three people didn't make a mistake in hiring somebody and occasionally did the three of us.
Q: Over the years, how would you rate the faculties that you had to work with?
A: I'd say nine on a score of ten. Basically over the years, uh, I've I've had some wonderful people, some of the finest people you'd ever, you'd ever find. Uh, a few orneries but basically fine.
Q: 0. K., let's talk about your communities, your parents. Did you have a lot of parent support?
A: Parent support dwindled as years went by. Parents were working, parents were busy. Uh, it was hard to get ahold of parents. Of course, of course, when I first started teaching school, parents were interested. They wanted their kids to come to school and they wanted them to behave, they wantedthem to study, they wanted them to learn. And if they didn't, they wanted to know about it if you had a problem and they would sit with you. But as time went on, you had a little more problem with parents, getting hold of the parents. And lots of parents took the attitude my kid didn't do and he said he didn't do it, and he doesn't lie, and I know he doesn't lie, and that's the attitude you ran into. That as the years went basicall I think, uh, the parent attitude's eased up. Some of it certaily had by the time I left the school business. I don't know what it is now.
Q: Do you have any guesses about why parents aren't as interested as they used to be?
A: I think, I think they're probably too busy working, trying to get money, uh, and they apply the kids with money instead of applying them with love and attention and care that youngsters need and that's my evaluation of the matter. I mean when both parents work and lots of time parents work shift work, one parent works one shift and another parent works another shift. The kid doesn't see his parent maybe from one week to the next or maybe never, uh, never sees them together or maybe they never interact as a family maybe and I think, I think that's probably the reason People are interested in making money so thay can buy more things. They don't put the value where the value belongs.
Q: What effect do you think T.V.'s had on children?
A: I think, I think it certainly affects the youngster. I know when, I know when we start getting t.v. in school, the children would just sit down and look at anything. As long as you had the t.v. on, the children would sit down and watch it. It didn't make much difference was on. I think it has a very profound effect on kids. I think a lot of them just turn them on, let it go, and watch. You're right. When we were in school and we had t.v., whenever you turned on they'd watch. Had the habit already there.
Q: Let's talk a little bit--you mentioned earlier uh that teachers wanted somebody to be the leader. What was your leadership style? What techniques did you use for faculties and students to know that you were the leader, that you were in charge?
A: I usually talked over the problems with the teachers. We'd discuss the problems, we'd discuss the procedures, then we'd set out to do the job basically was the way we worked it. But if I had a problem at school, I'd call my teachers together and I'd say, hay here's what I see's happening generally in this school and I think we need to do something about it and these are things I suggest and so on and so on. And the teachers maybe say I think this and this and this. And lots of time teachers would come to me and say I think we have something going on here that I don't think's very good and I think we ought to do something about it. It was that sort of situation. It was pretty much a cooperative sort of thing. It wasn't the sort of thing you could do by yourself. All of you, all of you had to pull up your sleeves and do the job together.
Q: So, you kind of saw yourself as a team?
A: That's right.
Q: Did. uh, did your faculties respond to that type of leadership?
A: Yes, yes. they did basically ninety-five percent. Of course, you always had somebody that didn't necessarily agree--a few weak links in the chain. But basically that, uh, but basically that's what teachers expected and what teachers wanted. And teachers that are really interested in doing a good job are interested in that type of thing. They want the kids to succeed and uh, and uh enjoy school.
Q: How do you think the students viewed you?
A: Me, uh, well, well, I think, I think basically uh, you were a mogul pretty much. Uh, I think that students basically had a respect for me. Maybe they didn't necessarily like me, but I felt they respected me. I'm sure a lot of them didn't like me and I'm sure a lot of the teachers I had over the years were not especially fond of me. But, uh, I tried to be fair and square with people and to treat people right, but if you're assuming, uh, control and you have to set--you have to call the shots, you don't make everybody happy by any means. And I'd say I didn't have a good name with a lot of students, but I'd say I hope I never had a student who felt like I mistreated or unfairly treated him. I hoped to give him what he was due and maybe a little beside, but I'm sure I didn't please everybody. I I feel, I feel very good about living in the community for fifty years and having people do things for me that they don't have to do and that kind of thing. And I think the best friends I have are former students. So, not everybody felt like you were an old so and so probably.
Q: So even though they they may not have liked you, you feel they respected you?
A: I'd I'd say so.
Q: How did you handle supervision of the teachers and class room observations--those types of things?
A: Well, I usually uh, I usually went in a teacher's class room. Course you can observe a teacher without going in a classromm. You can tell pretty much what a teacher's going, how she's handling her students, how she conducts her class and that kind of thing by seeing her students around out in the area. You don't have to go in the classroom to tell that, but if i really wanted to see the academic work, I'd say to the teacher I'd like to see how your kids are getting along in multiplication. I'd like to come in and sit down and have you work through the sections that you work through and let's see what's happening. Put some work on the board or put some work on paperwork so I can see and I'd usually go in and sit down and look at the work.
Q: Did you have to do observations that involved writing up lengthy reports or use checklists or could they be informal?
A: Yes, finally, finally before I retired I did. But basic ally most of the years I did not. Uh, usually the superintendent called you in and said you've got forty teachers out there. Anybody you want to fire any you want to (laughter) change around and I'd say yell, Mrs. Morrison, I want to get rid of her cause so and so she doesn't do this and this and somebody wants to teach second grade instead of third grade or something and that's about it. But finally we had to have an evalua tion of everybody that took a lot of time.
Q: Did you think it was a lot more effective to do a formal written evaluation?
A: No, I didn't. I didn't feel like it was anymore effective and I certainly felt like it took a lot more time when you ought to be doing something else.
Q: Do you feel you learned just as much the other way without writing it up?
A: I do. I think if it comes down to a question of real ability and you've got to say according to the law this and this and this, I guess you'd have to write it down. But, uh, I think if you, if you've got an honest teacher who's out there trying to do a good job you don't have to write down everything that happens.
Q: Did you see changes in the way you had to do evaluations and other things because of changes in legal requirements?
A: Yes, yes we did. You had, you had to be more concrete. You had to send in more information. It finally got down till the last year I was principal I was suppose to make a report to the superintendent of what I did everyday from morning till night. Now how can you make a report on everything you do every hour from morning to night every day and get anything done in the school.
Q: What would you say over the years was the worse problem you had to deal with?
Q: In what respect?
A: I'd say parents were probably the number one problem. Uh, teachers was the number two problem. Probably kids maybe number three would be the way I'd classify them uh especially in the latter years. Course I was, I was always lucky. I've I've had basically fine teachers over the years. A few, uh, a few in there that that wasn't but basically a pretty fine group. But ornery teachers can cause you a lot of problems.
Q: What type of problems did teachers cause you?
A: Discipline problems basically. When you have a teacher who's not effective in the classroom you just you've got academic, vou've got discipline, you've got emotional and you've got problems like Mr. Reagan has with the Congress. (laughter) That type of thing. I mean you go the whole route when you have that sort of situation. Maybe I don't make myself quite so clear. You just name the problems and you have them. These kids have problems wherever they go. If you have a teacher that's not doing the job and taking care of these youngsters like she should problems with the parents, problems in the classroom, problems on the playground, problems on the bus perhaps.
Q: Were your parent problems generally due to lack of support?
Q: What about parent organizations? Did you have PTO's or PTA's?
A: Basically not most of the time, no. Part of the time yes. But most of the time no.
Q: Was that your own choice or the school's philosophy or lack of interest?
A: Both--all three. I never, I never was too excited about it and in most of the areas I worked the parents weren't too excited about it. And of course school philosophy over the years while I was in the school business wasn't basically uh too much parent organization. So all three. I was never too excited about it myself.
Q: What about using parents as volunteers in the classroom or in the building? Did you do that?
A: Yes, I did, and I found that fine. I found that very effective and I found that the parents who came in and volunteered were about uh about some of the most cooperative parents i had. (laughter) It solved the problem.
Q: What type things did you do to try to build good p.r. with the community? To build good public relations with the community, to increase parent support?
A: Well, actually, uh, the things that we did, we decided to get parents to see what students were doing in the classroom and in the school and that kind of thing. Open forums and so on. They weren't parent organizations but you had activities and kind of thing where parents could come and see. We, uh, had open houses and uh displays and you had things the children did that the parent could come, and could come and come and see was basically the thing. We didn't have parents coming in and sitting down and saying you know this is a parent organization and Joe Blow's the president and someone else the vice president and someone else, basically not too much of that. Some but not, but not a continuous flow.
Q: A lot of schools today use their parent organizations as fund raisers, to get money for the extras that they'd like to do around the school. Did you ever see a need to do that?
A: No, usually we did that with the kids. If we needed money why the children basically were responsible and they'd get their parents.
Q: And that worked well for you?
A: That worked fine. Back in the early days of course we didn't have money you know. There wasn't money. If you needed money for something you had to raise it. Kids wanted it; kids could usually swing their parents and work it out someway. (laughter) You've found that out I guess with children of your own. Yes, they all want the prizes. (laughter)
Q: Uh, what advice would you give someone who was thinking about becoming a school level administrator--a principal?
A: I'd say unless you were 100 percent dedicated--emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially and every other way- don't do it.
Q: Do you feel the demands are too great if you're not? what? (did not hear)
A: The demands are too great if you're not all those things? I I feel unless you're you're willing to give it every- thing you've got, you better not do it.
Q: What's the biggest headache that would face an administra tor?
A: Uh, uh, of course, when I was the principal of a school, you never made enough money to get by on. You had to get out and make it on the side cause it was pretty tough cause you didn't have much time. Most of your time was in school. Uh, I mean financial problems was one of the things I always faced. Uh, Uh, I guess emotional problems would be maybe the number one problem of the principalship. Uh, you've you just deal with everyone's problems and first thing you know every body's problems become your problems and the next thing you know if you're not careful, you're in trouble emotionally.
Q: What's the greatest joy an administrator would have?
A: Well, I think, uh, seeing kids, uh, progress, and learn, and get along and be happy.
Q: Let's talk a little bit about central offices in school systems.
A: The central office, the superintendent and his staff because you've probably seen changes in the operation of the central office over the years. Yes. I had, I had five superintendents while I was, I was principal of the school--in the school business. Well, what changes did you see in how superintendents operated from when you started as you progressed through... Uh, when I first started basically you were sent out to the school and it was your problem and you had to get along the best you could. You didn't get much help from the superintendent I can tell you that. And course as time went on why, uh, you had more organization and the system had more help and more assistance and you, uh, had some place you could, you could go. They usually, usually would stay at the school and see that you had supplies according to the amount of money you had and so on and it was...It changed when I retired. Maybe they had a little too much organization in the superintendent's office because there was too many things that too many people was trying to get you to do and you just didn't have time to do them. You had a superintendent that had things he wanted you to do. You had assistants who had things they wanted you to do. Uh, the personnel man had things. We had a transportation man, we had a visiting teacher man, and you had director of instruction, you had federal programs and everybody had a full program for you. And if if you had just done everything that anyone of them wanted, you'd have been busy full time. But a lot of organization. You had a lot of pressure. You didn't, I didn't get through the things I was expected to do. A lot of the things I had on my desk at the opening of school from the preschool principals' conference were still around and I hadn't got to them by Thanksgiving. (laughter) If you must know the truth. (laughter) And then, by then I was ready to dump them in the trash can. (laughter) Probably the deadline had run out on them by then anyway. (laughter)
Q: How about support from the central office level? Did you feel that you got much support from the super intendent?
A: I'd say yes. Uh, toward the end of the administration I did, uh, I had I had one superintendent who was right along with you if you have any problems. I had one superintendent with whom I didn't know the score so you had to handle all your problems. But I'd say yes' the. the central administration improved. Of course, it became too complex by the time I retired. I felt we had too much organization.
Q: Did generally they support you or back you on any decision you made at the building level?
A: If they agreed with your decision. If they didn't agree with it, they didn't support you. I'd say yes, the superintendent supported me basically almost 100 percent.
Q: Do you think you had enough autonomy as a principal to make the decisions you needed to make at that level?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: Do you think you had too much autonomy?
A: In some instances, maybe so.
Q: Can you give me an example?
A: No. (laughter)
Q: All right.
A: Now I mean, uh, if if you're going to be principal of a school, you have to have a mind of your own and you had to be able to make decisions and once you made a decision then you had to be able to support it and stand back of it. And, uh, you might, you might become a little over zealous in that area. It's possible maybe maybe I did in some instances maybe I was a little dogmatic. And if I had to decide, why I couldn't decide with someone else's mind. I had to decide with my mind.
Q: Over the years you've probably seen a lot of other principals. At the time you left there were probably a lot of younger men who were still there. Have you seen changes in those people who are principals in a different philosophy toward the principalship, uh, different type personality of person who are going into principals or do they seem to be have the same type of view of it as you had?
A: I hear what you're saying, but I can't answer that question. I'm not in a position to say. I I would have to base my experience on the people I associated with over the years and basically over the years most of the people had the same sort of philosophy. There wasn't much variation, but I don't know about the younger crowd. I don't know.
Q: How about women administrators? Did you during the years that you were in service, were there any women admin- istrators?
A: No, uh, I had a high school principal who was a woman when I was in high school. But all the years I was principal of a school, at least in the jurisdiction where I was, there were only men. So other than the high school principal and she was as fine a person as I've known. She was principal of a big high school.
Q: Do you have a personal view on whether or not women should be administrators?
A: Not If they can do it, I say more power to 'em. And sometimes I think maybe they could do it better than men, especially with maybe with younger children.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you still become a principal?
A: I would, yes. I think it's the finest thing in the world anyone could do.
Q: Is there anything about it yould change?
A: Well, of course, after you do it for forty years, you get a lot more understanding. So I like to be a little more sympathetic to some things than what I was when I started. I'm sure I would. Uh, maybe overall attitude.
Q: Was there any decision that you made while you were a principal that you wish you'd made differently?
A: Well, probably some in some specific cases. Uh, I made several that I was I was sorry about and, uh, had to do basically with teachers. In other words, I I put up with some things that I shouldn't have. I was sorry I did over the years and shouldn't have, shouldn't have bought it.
Q: Do you feel in your dealings with personnel that you were too strict or too lenient or maybe right on target?
A: Well, I I was I was strict. I don't think I was too lenient. Lots of time I didn't think I was strict enough, but my philosophy was that I felt like if you came down on them and you were paid for it and that you had a job that you had agreed to do, then you ought to do it.
Q: Did basically your personnel respond to that?
A: Yes, yes, they did.
Q: If you could change anything about the way schools are run, what would you change?
A: Well, I think that, of course, the bigger the school the more problems. I would, I wouldn't try to put all the kids in a couple of centers I'll tell you that I'd put some out at Middletown, some out at Stephens city, some out at Gainesboro, some out at Gore. And and by always putting all of them together, you're putting all the problems in the community together. Well, I think the community is important.
Q: What's the ideal size in your opinion for an elementary school?
A: Probably five hundred. Not more than that. So that, teachers, teachers probably can have enough children that they're not overcrowded and so that you can know... And if you have a thousand kids, you can't know your children. I mean the last couple of years I was at Bass-Hoover I didn't know the kids. Kids there were coming along and you don't know who they are just like if you had teachers you didn't know. Just like you go down town and you don't know the people it doesn't mean much to you. So I think you lose the personal contact when you when you get too big. That's the number one thing and the number two thing is, of course, a social thing.
Q: Do you feel it's important to keep that community concept.
A: I do, very important.
Q: Let's talk about another change that probably happened over the years while you.were principal and that was the addition of a lot of things to elementary school- specialists, art, music, speech, special education, federal programs. I'm sure you saw all those changes. Do you think they helped or hindered?
A: I'd say basically hindered. I'd say you took away from the time that teachers needed to teach the fundamentals and the fundamentals in the elementary school are the things the kids ought to learn. I think it was more important for him to learn how to read, write, and spell, and and, uh, do fundamentals of arithmetic than it was for him to swim or maybe paint or something else. I think those things are important, but I think the fundamental things are the things that come first and I think you got around to the point where teachers didn't have the time to teach fundamentals.
Q: Did you have special education classes in your building?
Q: What about classes for those children, were they a help?
A: I'd say basically most of the kids in special education should be out in the regular classroom. That was my feeling on the matter. I think in society he doesn't live in a special situation. He lives in society. So he might as well learn it in school.
Q: How well-equipted do you think the regular teacher is for dealing with those children in the classroom?
A: Probably as well as she is with any of the other kids.
Q: Did you have a philosophy about grouping children or whether they should be similar..
A: Yes, yes, uh, basically I had a philosophy about grouping children. Basically it was about reading more than anything else. I felt the kids needed to be kind of taken along at their at their speed. Basically reading was the principal thing that I was concerned about as far as grouping was concerned. I didn't believe in this thing of segregating kids and putting them in a lot of different groups. I think it affected kids emotionally when you do that. He knows that he can't read if he's put down with the blue jays all the time why (laughter) pretty soon he gets an inferior complex. So you're teaching him inferiority actually. I mean that's the way I felt about it. If you've got thirty five students in a class and half of them can read and half of them are slow, then you have to do something about it, but, uh, basically that was it.
Q: What about over the years the role of the federal govern ment in education because you're sure to have seen a big change in that. Did you think that was a help or a hindrance?
A: I think anything the federal government messes with is a hindrance--schools and anyplace else--period. (laughter) I was going to say would your number one concern have been all the controls they put on it, tied it up in so much red tape?
Q: That's true. It's basically red tape and I think by the time you get the money down to the locality, the money's all gone. Period.
Q: Let's talk about some social changes while you were principal. Uh, of course, during the period you were principal, you would have had all the changes with civil rights. Did you experience anything...?
A: We went through the civil rights all right, but it wasn't a problem.
Q: Did you have many blacks?
A: We had blacks, not many, but we had blacks--all that was all that was in the community, but it wasn't a problem. Black kids are about the same as white kids as far as I concerned. Kids too, kids can be a problem too. I'm sure there'd have been problems if we'd had fifty or sixty percent, but, uh, I didn't experience that. But we took them in, I mean when desegregation came on and that's it.
Q: Did the community have an adverse reaction to it?
A: School didn't. Community didn't. The kids didn't. And I don't think, I don't know we might have had a fight or so but not many. We had those with white kids. I don't think, but no, no, not a problem.
Q: Uh, what do you think would be the biggest change that you saw coming into the schools from society? Were there anythings that were happening in the community that then impacted on the schools?
A: Uh, of course, down where I was you just got a flow of people. You just got people by the score. You just had too many people. You had, you always had strange people coming in. You just never had the chance to learn and know your kids, your parents, or anybody else. And you had a lot of turnover. I think the last year I was in school maybe we had about thirty percent turnover. If you had a thousand kids and you might not have three or four hundred of them by the end of school and no way you.were just working with numbers.
Q: What about teachers' organizations--NEA. VEA--were they very active while you were...?
A: Yes, they were and I was too.
Q: Do you feel they're beneficial?
A: Yes, I did. I did, I did about everything. I wasn't, I wasn't elected president of the Virginia Education Association, but I missed it by a few hundred votes. I did almost everything else. I was one hundred percent in favor of it. I think the teachers ought to do it because it's for their own benefit, but they didn't take that much interest in it. More so when I first started out. I've seen it dwindle since then. I I was in favor of it.
Q: Now the VEA and the NEA to some extent as well are trying to exclude administrators from the organization. Do you feel that it's better that the teachers and the admin istrators are not together in a professional organization?
A: N.o, I I think they belong together. They're in the thing together, and I think they belong together. I think the teachers made a mistake when they eliminated administrators cause administrators are the ones who are in a position to get things done. The teachers a lot of time aren't and I think they hurt themselves when they did it.
Q: Do you have any experience with teacher organizations that were militant?
A: No, semi. (laughter) They were semi because when I you know coming along teachers didn't make any money. Teachers couldn't make a living. Teachers wanted wanted enough money to pay the bills. If you call that militant, I guess they were all militant. (laughter) I didn't call it militant.
Q: Would you describe yourself as being an instructional leader when you were principal, as an instructional leader or as a manager or maybe a combination of both?
A: I guess a combination of both. I guess basically you're suppose to be an instructional leader, but it boiled down to about seventy-five percent management and twenty five percent instruction when you got the whole thing summed up.
Q: Do you feel it should have been different--that you should have had more time for instruction?
A: I feel like it should have been, but I was glad it wasn't. I was better on the managerial side than I was on the instructional side.
Q: Did you find that your teachers could function without having as much instructional leadership as management-- that they had the skills they needed?
A: If you have a good teacher, they get in there and do the job. You don't have to come down and sit beside them and tell them what to do everyday. If they can't do that, they don't belong.
Q: So the key's having a good staff?
A: Yes, that's the key.
Q: Uh, what do you attribute your success to as an admin istrator?
A: (laughter) Perservance. (laughter)
Q: Well, that's probably a good point. Why did you decide to retire?
A: Well, I became old. (laughter) And I reached the re tirement age. It was the only reason I retired. I wasn't interested in retiring, but the law says retire.
Q: Would you have stayed on?
A: Yes, indeed, sure. Until I died. I would have liked to have at my desk.
Q: You had a building named for you at the time you retired. I'm sure that was a very moving experience for you.
A: It's a great honor.
Q: How did you feel about that?
A: I felt like maybe I didn't deserve it.
Q: What do you feel everything you drive by the building and see your name on it?
A: Still feel like I didn't deserve it. (laughter)
Q: Uh, if you did it again and became a principal--and you said that you would do it again--if you had the chance what could you do to have prepared yourself better to be a principal?
A: That's a tough one. I think, I think the whole basic training program you go through in order to get a teaching certificate and get a license to teach is--at least it was when I was going through--was pretty far-fetched. A lot of the things that you did and took and you were exposed to didn't do much good for you in the schoolhouse was my feeling. I felt when I went to graduate school, we had to get out in schools and do some projects and observe and draw up some building plans and do this and that and the other which I felt was worth more to me than the philosophy classes I took in school. Uh, I think that's the case now. I think teacher training should get teachers out there where the action is so you can see what's going on. You have to learn how to deal with people and how to get along with people. That doesn't answer your question, but, uh, how you go about getting a good teacher is a hard question to answer. I think first of all you have to have someone that's very interested. That's number one. And I think if they're interested, they can solve a lot of the problems themselves. Some of the best teachers I had wasn't necessarily the smartest teachers but they just understood how to deal with kids and how to handle kids and how to teach kids. I never felt like I was the smartest person in it, but I felt like a little common sense helped a whole lot.
Q: Do you think over the years--you mentioned teacher train ing--do you think that teachers became better prepared or because the requirements for teachers changed...?
A: Uh, yes, I would say probably so. They had practice teaching and they was put out in and they had to go out and had to have half a year in schools. And I'd say yes, teachers were getting better prepared. Teacher institutions were doing a better job. They'd been out there. They'd been out in the schools half a year before they got their degree. Course most of these people had been in school all their lives anyway and you ought to learn something in school all your life anyway. (laughter)
Q: The only thing we really didn't talk about other than just mentioning reading a little bit was about the curriculum--and of course you have quite a few years to look back over. What type curriculum changes did you see?
A: well, you you mentioned a while ago when you mentioned they put a lot of additions, that was the thing. You had a lot of extra people, activities. Basically that was it.
Q: Did you feel there was enough time to get everything tuaght that needed to be taught?
A: Never. That's the reason I said I was high on funda mentals. Use your time for your fundamentals. If you had any time left over, you add these things on.
Q: Do you think it would help to have had a longer school year?
A: Not necessarily. You get tired of it after a while. Kids get tired. The kids wear out. The teachers get tired and I think you need a break. I don't think a longer school year is necessary. I think that what you do with the time you.re in there is the thing that's important and I think you're just taking too much time away from the fundamentals.
Q: If you design a curriculum for a school, what would you include when you say fundamentals?
A: I, uh, I would include certainly the basics. You've got to be able to read, write, spell, and work some arithmetic and if you don't learn those in elementary school, heaven help you.
Q: Would you throw in a little social studies and science?
A: Yes, as you go along. You just learn some of those things anyhow. Little kids learn those whether you teach them to them or not. When I went to school. basically the same as we did. We got reading and writing and spelling and arithmetic and you and I know that stuff. And when I got through the fourth grade, I knew the multiplication table and work arithmetic. I could add and subtract and multiply and divide and I could work arithmetic. And I can guarantee you that you can go out here and get kids out of fifth grade and they don't, they don't know the multiplication tables and they can't add or subtract and multiply and divide because you couldn't down in my school.
Q: One last question (laughter). What haven't I asked you that I should have asked you or what would you like to say that you haven't had a chance to say?
A: Uh, you've asked me most of the questions that I think that are important but I think the number one, the most important thing in the school is a good dedicated teacher, a teacher that loves kids and a teacher that's willing to give herself to kids and a teacher that will do the job. I've had one teacher I can think about right now. She's eighty years old, and she's in the hospital down here right now and she has cancer and one of the finest people I ever knew. She could take any little bedraggled kid that had no clothes and was dirty and scruffy and in two or three weeks she had him smiling and blooming and happy.
Q: I think you're right.
A: I think that's the thing, the thing that's most important in the school business.
Q: O.K. Thank you.
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